Caps GM McPhee on Dale Hunter: “I didn’t expect him to play that defensively”

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Over at SB Nation, Ted Starkey relays some intriguing quotes from Washington GM George McPhee’s recent speaking engagement — most notably, McPhee’s thoughts on his former head coach, Dale Hunter.

Here’s McPhee:

“With Dale Hunter, for example, I didn’t expect him to play that defensively. Once we got going, I allowed the coaches to coach the way they wanted to coach.

“Their necks are on the line, I don’t want to be telling them what to do and turn around and fire them for making the wrong decisions. It’s your team, do what you have to do. I try not to talk about what I’m seeing unless they ask.”

Pretty frank admission, no?

Credit to McPhee for not meddling, but it seems wild he’d hire (and continue to employ) Hunter without even discussing the team’s style of play.

Had Hunter been winning, sure, the hands-off approach is great — but the Caps were basically a .500 team under his regime (okay, 30-23-7, and I’m counting the shootout losses as real losses) before gaining a bit of steam in the playoffs (where they performed admirably, but still finished 7-7.)

All this said, and reading firmly between the lines, one can conclude that while McPhee didn’t expect Hunter to play so defensively, he certainly liked it.

When Hunter announced that he was leaving the team, McPhee said he “loved everything about Dale” and praised how Hunter “really taught club the ‘how’ of winning.”

All of which leads to the big, pressing question: Will he employ the same hands-off approach with Adam Oates?