One thing I learned by trolling the archives for Dale Hunter anecdotes: players used to give out great anecdotes to the press.
Another thing: it was virtually mandatory, when writing about Hunter, to mention his propensity for practical jokes.
What sort of things?
Well, he would substitute steak sauce for chocolate syrup during team meals and smear “gooey substances on telephone earpieces,” according to the Globe and Mail.
He would nail teammates’ gloves to lockers and shoes to the ground, and put Vaseline in combs and brushes before team pictures, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
He once stole the hubcaps off Ed Kastelic’s car, according to Clint Malarchuk, and would fill shoes and pants pockets with shaving cream, according to John Druce. Hunter told reporters he would prank broadcasters by refusing to provide anything but yes or no answers for up to three minutes.
In 1990, The Post mentioned a litany of Caps practical jokes, including “spreading gobs of Vaseline in a player’s helmet or in his hairbrush,” partially sawing a teammate’s stick “so when he takes a slap shot, the stick snaps and he falls on his face,” stealing shoes or shaving creaming the head of sleeping teammates, and “taping clear fishing line to a $ 1 bill and leaving the bait on the floor of an airport terminal.”
And any such list of pranks would always finger Hunter as a prime instigator.
“I’ll just say this: Don’t leave your car keys around him,” Olaf Kolzig once told The Post. “He’ll put some fish remains under your seat. You won’t find them for a few days, but that smell will be there for quite a while.”
“It got so bad, cutting clothes, that we had to have a truce,” Hunter told The Post in 1990.
“Dale and I cut a deal,” then-GM David Poile once told the Globe and Mail. “I don't bother him and he doesn’t bother me.”
Hunter would receive, too. When he returned from his Pierre Turgeon suspension, in 1993, The Washington Times reported that “he found the laces on his skates cut and Vaseline liberally applied to his helmet and the masking tape on his skate blades.” A former teammate playing with the Bruins wrote “Pig Farmer” on one of Hunter’s sticks during a return trip to the Cap Centre.
Chris Simon once told the Calgary Herald that the best prank he ever saw came after a year-long war between Hunter and Steve Konowalchuk, involving lots of shaving cream and clothing knots. After one road trip, Hunter got into his truck and tried to put it in reverse and nothing happened. “The whole team was laughing because Konowalchuk had gotten someone to jack his truck up, put it on blocks,” Simon said.
Hunter’s most famous stunt probably came after Garry Galley dumped water over his head. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel told the rest of the story:
A week later, then-Washington coach Bryan Murray left the Capitals’ practice rink during a snowstorm. As he was driving, he looked over to the car next to him and did a double take.
“There was Garry driving with a hockey sock over his head in the middle of a blizzard,”' Murray said. `”Dale had removed the doors from his Jeep. That's the type of guy he was off the ice. A practical joker and one heck of a leader.”
But if that story was the most-told, the Washington Times’s Dave Fay had an even better one. When the Caps retired Hunter’s sweater in 2000, Hunter snuck into the dressing room during the subsequent game
“When the players went to get dressed after the game, every one of them was missing one sock,” Fay wrote. “When the players held a gathering for their former captain the next day, Hunter showed up holding a bag with 17 unmatched socks.”
Anyhow, sounds like the guy was a heck of a practical joker. And we all know, practical jokers who call Verizon Center home have a long and distinguished history of finding nothing but good....you know, forget that last part.