Dale Hunter has left the building.
Dale Hunter has decided to leave the Washington Capitals after just 6 months on the job, going 30-23-7 for a .500 record and taking the Caps to within one win of the Conference Finals - the farthest the Caps have gone in the Ovechkin-era. Hunter said his family was more important, and for a professional sports coach to put family over money, it shows just how down-to-earth and humble he really is. Hunter also has a business to run. As owner and coach of the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, Hunter is at his best grooming tomorrows stars. Hunter wasn't meant to stay long in D.C. anyway. He signed a one-year contract and many believe he was brought in as a filler - Patrick Roy was rumored to be the first choice but he turned it down. Hunter leaves a Caps team that is battling a never-ending identity crisis. A team that may have to start over - again.
Who will coach the Caps in the upcoming NHL season? Here are a few potential candidates:
Marc Crawford - He won a Cup in Colorado coaching two of the NHL's most respected stars - Sakic and Forsberg. After coaching a couple seasons in Dallas and L.A., he'll be hungry for another shot.
Bob Hartley - He also won a Cup in Colorado in 2001 with Sakic and Forsberg. Coached Atlanta until 2007. Is now coaching the ZSC Lions in Switzerland.
Dean Evanson - The Caps Assistant Coach for the last few years under Boudreau and Hunter. He knows the system. He knows the players.
Patrick Roy - Was offered the coaching job for the Caps in November, but turned it down. Would he be interested again? It would be his first coaching gig. He knows the game very well.
Marc French - Set franchise records of wins and points as coach of the Hershey Bears. He helped groom Carlson, Alzner, Orlov and some guy named Holtby.
Ron Wilson - Took the Caps to their only Stanley Cup Final in 1998. Coached Anaheim, San Jose and Toronto. Would Washington welcome him back? Probably not...
While there are plenty of fish in the sea for General Manager George McPhee (GMGM) to choose from, he has time, and he's not going to rush into it. With the NHL Entry Draft only weeks away, GMGM's focus is on how to tweak the Caps' potential lineup. Look for the Caps to make an announcement in August.
As for Dale Hunter - Thank You. Thank you for your time here in D.C. Thank you for your awkward post-game press conferences when your forgot your players names. Thank you for never changing out of the same suit and tie. Most of all, thank you for teaching your team responsibility. You held your players accountable for what they did on the ice. You weren't afraid to bench your stars and let the grinders take over because they were the only ones who gave a damn. You'll always be an icon in Washington Capitals history as a player and now a coach - thanks. Good luck in London, Dale.
**For those of you who don't know anything about hockey. It's London, Ontario, Canada. Not London, England.