For many months this season, some Caps fans were concerned that Dale Hunter was too stoic, too emotionless, too detached from the ups-and-downs of a hockey game, and too darn boring. Dude just stood there, arms crossed, chewing his gum, whether the team was winning or losing, coming back or blowing a lead, playing well or embarrassing themselves.
Of course, now that the Caps have taken out the Eastern Conference’s second seed and taken the top seed to a Game 7, people love the way Hunter never gets rattled, never loses his cool, and doesn’t float in the wind from one emotion to another.
And so as long as everyone loves Dale Hunter’s stoicism, might as well include Karl Alzner’s love.
“How has Dale contributed to your success so far,” 106.7 The Fan’s Eric Bickel asked the blue-liner Wednesday morning. “Can you compare and contrast Bruce and Dale and their styles? Has his demeanor at all contributed to your success?
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“I definitely think so,” Alzner said. “He’s been extremely calm throughout the entire playoffs: after wins, after losses. During video sessions, if guys are doing something wrong, he keeps a real cool head, and I think that helps everyone stay with the program and stay focused.
“No one’s getting too down on themselves if they’ve had a bad game. If they’ve scored a big goal, no one’s getting overly excited. They get excited to the right point, and he’s one of the main reasons for that.
“You just see him on the bench, and it’s the same thing every single time. Nothing changes. He’s not smashing the glass or anything like that. It’s really calming to see that on the back of the bench. Without a doubt, he’s helped, big-time.”
Whether this is accurate or just a nice narrative to plaster over a successful postseason, it’s true that the Caps have shown an impressive resiliency, going 4-0 in playoff games following overtime losses this spring, including Monday’s gone-in-7-seconds disaster.
“How would Bruce have reacted to a loss like that, compared to how Dale reacted?” Jason Bishop asked Alzner.
“He might have been a little bit more upset, probably would have had a longer video session [Tuesday], breaking down things that we did right but also a lot of things that we did wrong,” Alzner said. “The difference was when we lost, we looked at it longer, and longer. I think maybe sometimes [we] put too much stock into a loss like that. This way, it’s a lot less. You’re able to turn the page a lot quicker.”