Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dale Hunter will get Better, Right?

Fans loved Dale Hunter the player
If you're a long time Caps fan, you knew who Dale Hunter was before he was brought in as head coach. You knew he was arguably one of the most dirty, gritty, fierce, competitive, and for that matter, beloved players to ever wear a Caps uniform. When he was introduced as coach, I know I wanted to see that kind of mentality passed on to his players. But what about Dale Hunter the coach? What has he done? Where did he come from? In case you were wondering, here you go:

 In 1996, the Knights mustered a shockingly embarrassing 3 wins in a 68 game season. Hunter took over as head coach for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League in 2001-2002. His first season? 24 wins, 65 points and made it to the second round of the playoffs. His second year? 31 wins, 72 points and made it to the second round of the playoffs. His third year was even better with 53 wins, 110 points and the team made it to the third round of the playoffs. By the end of his fourth season, he was hoisting the Memorial Cup in the air after a 59 win season and 120 points. He has mentored current NHL stars such as Corey Perry, Patrick Kane and John Tavares.

What does this say about Dale Hunter as a coach? He gets the most out of his players. He shows consistent improvement. He's intelligent enough to learn on the fly and find ways to win with different players. Although he doesn't have any NHL coaching experience, there is reason to believe he will be successful. It's been a rough start so far, with questions as to whether or not he can translate his success with young players into success with men in the National Hockey League.

Let me explain my stance on Dale Hunter, as some readers were confused over my last post. I am not calling for Dale Hunter's head. In no way do I think he should be fired, nor do I think he will be fired at the end of the year. I do think he needs to get the team to show some life. When you have opposing players and media for other teams saying Hunter's system is totally unsuited for players like Semin and Oveckin, it's not a good sign. I'm not saying scrap it, I'm just saying I want to see Dale Hunter learn and adapt, just like he did with the London Knights.

Short video on Hunter's success in London

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