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Posted at 04:45 PM ET, 11/28/2011

What should new Capitals coach Dale Hunter do first? (Updated)

Update: You responded with more than 100 sets of recommendations for Dale Hunter’s first moves as Capitals coach, and here are some of the most interesting — including reactions to a few from Tarik El-Bashir:


New Capitals coach Dale Hunter, right, talks with Alex Ovechkin, during practice Monday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP)
From lloydrj727 and many others:

First and foremost, strip Ovie of the C. Give it to someone who is a REAL motivator and will hold his teammates accountable.

Tarik’s response: Everyone should just give it a rest — they’re not stripping Ovechkin of the C. Leadership doesn’t have to come from one person and shouldn’t have to come from just one person. There are a lot of guys in the locker room who can show leadership.

There are some very strong captains in this league, but at the same time, it’s just a three-inch strip of cloth.

From tominsocal:

I had a boss years ago who said you have to be able to step on someone’s shoes without messing up the shine. Must be done with Ovechkin’s skates.

Tarik’s response: I completely agree with that. That really is the way Ovechkin has to be approached. I think he is coachable, but he is sensitive to criticism.

Like any superstar, he has a big ego. I don’t want to say that Hunter has to treat him with kid gloves, but he has to get to know him before he drops the hammer on him. It has to be a two-way street — there has to be some give and take.

From VTDuffman (and others):

Establish who the [No. 1] goalie is (we got Vokoun for a reason) and actually play him like the 1 goalie.

Tarik’s response: I think it’s pretty clear from the way Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth split the games, Vokoun is the No. 1. And his stats reflect the fact that he’s the better of the two.

But I think coming out and saying it may go a long way toward improving Vokoun’s confidence, which is something he needs right now.

Best of the rest:

From seth_malaguerra:

Start playing like we’re one of the bigger teams in the NHL, which we are, or at least used to be. This means dump and chase (and actually chase and finish checks!), forecheck hard, and start getting dirty goals in front of the net.

From sgm3:

How about getting the other 21 players to actually start playing instead of hiding behind all the blame being laid at Ovie’s and Semin’s feet?

From DaleHunter32:

First 3 things for Hunter to do?
1.) Beat St. Louis
2.) Beat Pittsburgh
3.) Beat Ottawa


Original post:

New Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter is taking over a team that has lost eight of its past 11 games, sits in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs despite a talented roster.

Add in the problems former coach Bruce Boudreau has had with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and injuries to star defenseman Mike Green and others, and Hunter seems like he will have his hands full.

So what do you think Hunter should do first? Post the three items you feel Hunter must tackle right away in the comments , and we'll highlight some of the best responses later in the day.

More on Boudreau firing/Hunter hiring:

Capitals fire Bruce Boudreau; Dale Hunter named coach

Video: McPhee on Boudreau, ‘The tank was empty’

Poll: Was it the right move?

Tracee Hamilton: Boudreau had to go

D.C. SportsBog: Top 10 Boudreau moments

Leonsis thanks Boudreau

Hunter jumps from OHL to NHL

Box Seats: Caps say “Goodnight Bruce”

Q&A: Boswell on firing

Photos: Boudreau fired

Bog: The biggest goal in Caps history

Box Seats: Why Bruce had to go

Ovechkin on Boudreau

Ex-teammates praise Hunter

By and  |  04:45 PM ET, 11/28/2011

 
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