When Devils Coach Peter DeBoer studied video of the Capitals in preparation for tonight’s contest, the style of play looked awfully familiar.
That’s because DeBoer coached against Dale Hunter for seven seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. DeBoer was the bench boss of the Kitchener Rangers from 2001-08; Hunter was coach of the London Knights. They weren’t exactly buddies, by many accounts.
“We had some epic battles at that level,” DeBoer said with a laugh. “He’s an intense guy. His teams always play hard.”
The similarities between Hunter’s systems in London and the ones he’s implementing in Washington, DeBoer added, are unmistakable.
“He’s doing a lot of the things [in the NHL] that gained him success there, including the way they defend,” DeBoer said. “Flipping a lot of pucks out of their own zone into the neutral zone to create foot races. So I see a lot of the same tendencies, some flashbacks to some earlier days.”
Asked if he believed back then that Hunter had what it takes to coach in the NHL, DeBoer said: “Oh, absolutely. That’s a very good league that we coached in there. The type of success he had there over an eight- or 10-year period there, that isn’t by accident. The man is a very good coach, so I’m not surprised at all.”
The Capitals are 5-5 under Hunter, but have won four of their past six.