Does Dale Hunter know what he’s getting into? Do the Washington Capitals? Because as Hunter replaces Bruce Boudreau as the Caps’ coach Monday, it comes down to this:
Hunter is used to coaching kids who follow orders, and now he inherits a combustible mix of NHL egos that hasn’t been coachable - starting with slumping superstar Alex Ovechkin(notes). He has never coached at a level higher than junior, yet the bar couldn’t be higher here. The only way this will be successful is if the Capitals win the Stanley Cup.
Boudreau just reached 200 victories quicker than any other coach in NHL history. He has a 201-88-40 regular-season record among a number of notable accomplishments. Owner Ted Leonsis blogged a thank-you note to Boudreau that reads like a happy retirement note, not a firing announcement.
“Bruce was instrumental in the team’s success over the last four seasons,” Leonsis wrote. “He won four division championships, a Presidents’ Trophy, an Eastern Conference banner, two playoff series and coached us to our best records in team history during the regular season. He also won a coach of the year award and holds the record for winning 200 games faster than any coach in NHL history. He is a good man.”
Yet all that wasn’t enough.