As Dale Hunter makes the jump to NHL head coach after spending 10 years as a bench boss in the Ontario Hockey League, plenty of people will be watching how the Capitals’ players react to a new voice. Hunter is a respected former NHL player, but he is still someone without any previous professional coaching experience on his resume.
Some of those who played with or against Hunter, 51, during his career, though, said Monday they believe he will be able to command respect from his new team.
“As a player he won your respect by the way he worked so hard and if you didn’t give it to him, he’d challenge you,” said Rod Langway, whose retired Capitals number hangs alongside Hunter’s. Langway played with Hunter for six seasons. “I’d think he’s the same way as a coach. Honest, straightforward – that’s the type of guy he is. And he’s probably going to ruffle some guys’ feathers.”
Peter Bondra, who played with Hunter for nine years, including Hunter’s compete tenure as captain in Washington, said that the new job will be a challenge for his former teammate. But Bondra said he believes “Dale’s going to be a good fit for this team”.
“He was a true leader, his presence, the way he played just made you want to follow him,” Bondra said. “He’s not the kind of guy that needs to turn things upside down. I think the team will respond to him just by the way he demands that respect.”
Said Craig Laughlin, currently a color analyst on CSN Washington’s Capitals broadcasts: “You knew when he was upset, you knew when he was upset with you, even when I played with him he wouldn’t say a lot on the bench. ... If you made a bad play he would just give you that look and you knew as a player that you had to live up to his expectations. He’s not a guy that’s going to come in and give a long speech. He’s going to be very short, very succinct and very on top of what he wants to say.”
More on Boudreau firing/Hunter hiring:
Poll: Was it the right move?
Tracee Hamilton: Boudreau had to go
D.C. Sports Bog: Top 10 Boudreau moments
Box Seats: Caps say “Goodnight Bruce”
Q&A: Boswell on firing
Photos: Boudreau fired
Box Seats: Why Bruce had to go