Dale Hunter, the man who was presented with the penalty box to the old Capitals Centre when the franchise retired his No. 32 in 2000, was asked if the team he now guides as head coach would play with the same persona he exhibited.
“There’s too many referees out there now,” Hunter said with a laugh Monday. “There’s an extra one. You know something? Hockey’s changed a lot. But play hard. Forecheck hard. Finish your checks. No one needs penalties any more. If you play hard on the ice, you’ll be always be playing for me.”
Hunter’s point is well taken, and the Capitals will likely grow to reflect their new bench boss’ snarl the way most teams develop the traits of those that mold them. Perhaps just without the frequent time in the penalty box.
A few of the players on the roster may have had the beginning of their career overlap with the conclusion of Hunter’s, but many were too young to share the same ice with him as a player.
For the uninitiated, some of the Capitals searched for videos of their new coach’s exploits before practice on Monday.
“We were on YouTube this morning,” Troy Brouwer admitted. “To see a couple of his fights a couple of his plays, the [hit on Pierre] Turgeon as well. We know what kind of personality he is.”
Hunter’s very late elbow on the Islanders’ Pierre Turgeon in the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs earned him a 21-game suspension and is one of the more memorable infractions of his career. You can check out a clip of the play leading up to the incident and the shot on Turgeon here.