The Washington Post

Dale Hunter makes jump from junior hockey to NHL

View Photo Gallery: Dale Hunter is hired as head coach of the Capitals, two days after Bruce Boudreau’s team was humbled, 5-1, in Buffalo by an injury-depleted Sabres team that was without nine regulars.

When Dale Hunter steps on the ice at KCI at noon today, it will mark the first NHL or professional level practice that he has led as a coach.

Hunter’s hiring marks the fourth consecutive time, following Bruce Boudreau, Glen Hanlon and Bruce Cassidy, that Washington has brought in a coach without any prior experience as an NHL head coach.

Hamilton: Boudreau became the something that had to be done
Live Q&A, 11: Thomas Boswell on the Dale Hunter hiring

The former Capitals great returns to Washington after amassing a career as a well-respected junior coach. Hunter, who was in the midst of his 11th season guiding the London Knights, has the best winning percentage in the history of the Ontario Hockey League, compiling a record of 451-189-23-24.

Hunter was the fastest coach in the history of the OHL to record 300 wins — a mark he achieved at the start of the 2008-09 season — and recorded his 450th OHL win this past Saturday. He becomes the second junior coach in the past four seasons to make the leap straight to the NHL.

Peter DeBoer, who is now coach of the New Jersey Devils, was hired by the Florida Panthers at the start of the 2008-09 season after spending the previous 13 years as a head coach in the OHL.

During his time with the London Knights, Hunter coached two defensemen currently on the Capitals roster – John Carlson and Dennis Wideman. When General Manager George McPhee traded to acquire Wideman on the tread deadline last season, he sought Hunter’s advice on the defenseman first.

Here’s what Wideman had to say last year when he first came to Washington:

“I’ve heard so many great things about the organization,” Wideman said. “When I was in junior, my head coach -- and a guy I talk to quite a bit -- was Dale Hunter, and he spoke so highly of the Capitals for so long. It’s a pleasure to be coming up your way.”

Wideman credited his four years with the OHL’s London Knights under the tutelage of both Dale and Mark Hunter for helping him become the player he is now in a sixth NHL season.

“Everyone knows what kind of player Dale was and what he means to that franchise,” Wideman said. “He always said positive things with the way they treat players and moving forward, how they’re trying to build the team.”

More on Boudreau firing/Hunter hiring:

Capitals fire Bruce Boudreau; Dale Hunter named coach

Hunter addresses the media

McPhee’s news conference

What should Hunter do first?

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

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


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.