Dale Hunter’s contract with the Washington Capitals only runs through the end of this season, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed Wednesday.
Hunter, one of the franchise’s all-time greats as a player from 1987 to 1999, was introduced as the 15th coach in Capitals history on Nov. 28, hours after Bruce Boudreau was fired. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss Hunter’s contractual status.
Before joining the Capitals, Hunter had spent 11 seasons running one of junior hockey’s most successful and lucrative franchises, the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Hunter served as coach and president the Knights franchise, which he co-owns with his brother, Mark.
Dale Hunter is still listed on London’s Web site as team president.
Hunter did not answer his cellphone. A Capitals spokesman said the team does not comment on the contract of its coaches as a matter of policy.
Hunter’s one-year contract allows the team and Hunter the opportunity to reassess the situation at season’s end, much like the first contract Boudreau received when he was hired in November 2007.
If Hunter’s first stint behind an NHL bench is a success and he enjoys his new job, it’s likely he’ll agree to an extension, the source said.
If he is unable to turn the Capitals around – they were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference entering Wednesday’s games and 5-5 since he took over – he may return to the Knights and his native Ontario, where his family maintains a sprawling farm.