Tag: Dale Hunter

Brooks Laich

Brooks Laich tried to convince Dale Hunter to stay on as Caps coach


Over at CSN Washington, there’s a boatload of quotes and anecdotes from a stunned Washington Capitals group, trying to come to grips with the resignation of head coach Dale Hunter.

It seems the Caps were genuinely surprised by Hunter’s decision to leave. Brooks Laich said it caught him off guard, “because I thought [Hunter] really enjoyed it.”

“I just had a short chat with him and shook his hand and asked him if there’s anything I can do to convince him to stay,” Laich explained. “I was sort of shocked when I found out, but he will be missed.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner was also stunned to learn the news.

“It surprised me  a fair bit,” Alzner said. “I didn’t know what to expect, I knew it was a possibility but I think it’s taken a lot of guys by surprise.”

After surprise, the next most common reaction was disappointment.

From Mike Green (“We’re sad to see him go”) to Nicklas Backstrom (“It kind of sucks, actually”) to Jay Beagle (“It wasn’t what I wanted to hear”), the news of losing Hunter hit hard.

Beagle went to far as to say he “loved” Hunter as a coach and that sentiment seemed to stretch across a number of guys who experienced winning in a whole new way this postseason.

For the first time in a long time, the Capitals won playoff games they weren’t supposed to. They also showed a gritty, determined, resilient side many weren’t sure they had. Their seven-game ouster of the defending Cup champion Bruins and pushing the top-seeded Rangers to the brink said a lot about how much the team had grown.

The Capitals, in turn, explained that their playoff success said a lot about Hunter.

“He taught us as much about leadership and team aspect, and respect amongst players and trust in teammates as he did about hockey,” Laich said. “It’s like having another veteran in the locker room.

“He was great.”

Video: PHT’s Mike Halford on replacing Dale Hunter

George McPhee
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Washington Capitals GM George McPhee has a lot of questions to answer. Yet before he determines whether to bring back players like Mike Green and Dennis Wideman, he needs to find a new head coach. PHT’s Mike Halford breaks down the different possibilities and many variables in the video below.

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So, who replaces Hunter in Washington?

George McPhee

With reports of Dale Hunter stepping down in Washington now confirmed, the Capitals will turn their attention to finding a new head coach.

GM George McPhee said the Caps will take their time finding a new bench boss, but also indicated (to the Washington Post) they “might have someone in place at the draft.”

With that in mind, here’s a list of the potential candidates making the rounds…

Ron Wilson

/cue Caps fans running for nearest cliff

Okay, before everybody goes freaking out, there are two legit reasons why his name is here.

1) Despite the horrendous stint in Toronto, Wilson’s coaching resume is still remarkably strong — over 1400 games and 600 wins.

2) He’s got a history with the organization and McPhee. Wilson took the Caps to three 40-plus win seasons and the Cup finals in 1998; he and McPhee were hired together as coach and GM in 1997.

Of course, McPhee fired Wilson in 2002.

Bob Hartley

After winning a Swiss league title with the ZSC Lions, Hartley seems poised to make his return to the NHL.

Here’s what Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini told ESPN (paywall) about Hartley:

“The man wins championships.

“Bob’s daily work ethic is outstanding. He’s the first guy at the rink and he doesn’t leave until 6 or 7 o’clock. The Swiss players had never seen anything like this. They thought he was crazy.”

The feathers in Hartley’s cap? His 2001 Stanley Cup with Colorado and the fact he was the only coach able to get the Atlanta Trahsers into the playoffs, a feat that gets more impressive the more you remember how dysfunctional the organization was.

Dean Evason

Washington’s longest-serving assistant, 13-year NHL veteran, sack-grabbing enthusiast (NSFW, language.)

Marc Crawford

If only because his name comes up whenever there’s a job opening in the NHL. That’s what you get when you win a Stanley Cup, even if it was 16 years ago.


— Since Wilson and Crawford warranted mention (under the NHL’s coach recycling program), might as well throw former Hartford/Toronto/Carolina head coach Paul Maurice in the mix.

— New York Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan is one of the hotter (in a coaching sense, pervs) candidates at the moment and has head man experience from his time in Boston.

— Ex-Chicago assistant Mike Haviland could get a sniff, though I don’t know what (if anything) that questionable ouster did to his reputation.