Monday, November 28, 2011

For Better or Worse: Boudreau Out, Hunter In

  • Fastest coach to reach 200 wins in NHL history.
  • Four consecutive Southeast Division titles.
  • One President's Trophy
  • One Jack Adams Trophy

Just a few of the things Bruce Boudreau accomplished in his four years as head coach of the Washington Capitals. Today's news is tough to swallow. The name Boudeau is closely associated with the resurgence of the Washington Capitals organization. Time will tell if this decision was the right one or not, but one thing is certain, Boudreau will be missed. Playoff woe's aside, "Gabby" was loved by the the District of Columbia. Like Ted Leonsis, he was honest, sometimes brutally so. If the team didn't play well, he said so during the press conference. For the most part he was able to correct problems with the team's play. After 2009 when the Caps were giving up too many goals, he changed the scheme, and made them more defensive minded, while still maintaining the success they had the past 2 seasons.
The move to fire Boudreau nearly exactly 4 years from his hiring is a desperate move by a club looking to take a team from regular season winners, to Stanley Cup winners. George McPhee thinks Dale Hunter can do better. Hunter played most of his career with the Washington Caps and his number is hanging in the rafters of the Verizon center. He is a former captain and instigator. He spent so many minutes in the penalty box, the Caps organization gave him one of the penalty boxes as a gift when the U.S. Air Arena was closed. The Caps are hoping he can use his energy to help light a fire under these players and get them to the next level. As far as I'm concerned, if Boudreau absolutely has to go, this is the guy I want behind the bench. Ironically enough however, Hunter has had trouble in the playoffs as well. Hunter has coached the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League since 2001, leading them to the playoffs every year. The irony is that since they won the Memorial Cup in 2005, and losing in the finals a year later, he hasn't been able to get past the third round of the playoffs.

Boudreau with the Jack Adams Trophy
George McPhee and the Capitals organization have made their move. They are hoping Dale Hunter can inspire this team and lead them into the playoffs and more. They had better be right, because if they're not, where do we go from here? Boudreau will most likely watch Tueday's game against the Blues on his couch. If this coaching change doesn't work, McPhee could be in the same position next year. In my opinion, this is a day to remember Bruce Boudreau. I am a Dale Hunter fan, and I wish him the best, but Boudreau will always, always have a place in my heart as the coach who brought back Caps hockey. I wish him the best of luck in his coaching career, because it's not over.

Current Caps coach Dale Hunter

Dale Hunter

- 12 years played for the Caps
- 3565 penalty minutes (2nd in NHL history)
- Served 21 game suspension for a hit (longest in NHL history)
- Only player in NHL with 1,000 points and 3,000 PIM
- Played for the 1998 Caps- lost in Stanley Cup

Impressive player stat line. However, he has never coached in the AHL, let alone the NHL. He has a huge amount of pressure on his shoulders, and as a Caps fan, I wish him the best. You have your work cut out for you.

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