|Say hello to Tim Hunter! (No relation to Dale Hunter)|
Hunter first started in the NHL as a player after being drafted by the then Atlanta Flames in 1979. Through his 16 year playing career, he played for the Calgary Flames (appearing in the finals in 1986 and winning the Stanley Cup in 1989), the Quebec Nordiques, the Vancouver Canucks (another Cup appearance in 1994), and the San Jose Sharks.
Through his tenure as a player, he was regarded as a great defenseman and penalty killer, as well as a fierce enforcer. As a result of his hard play, he is currently ranked 8th on the NHL's all-time penalty minutes list with 3,142 PIM.
Fifteen years to the day of July 23, after terms with San Jose and Toronto (following Ron Wilson around like a puppy), he has come back to Washington to coach alongside Oates, Johansson, and Kolzig, all of whom were players during his first stint with the Caps.
Reunion of some of the 1998 SCF team, now behind the bench. That can only mean good things...right?All around, I think Hunter was a smart choice for assistant coach. He knows the city having coached here before, he knows the coaches having coached them before, and he is experienced as a player (16 seasons) and as an assistant coach (15 seasons). Also, being part of the coaching staff that took the Capitals to their only Stanley Cup finals appearance and playing in a few finals himself certainly doesn't hurt.
Now that all the facts are out of the way, here's what I think about this move. The Capitals went outside the organization (sort of) and found another defensive-minded assistant to go along with Johannson. With these two at the defensive helm (Johansson and Hunter), the Caps will be a team to reckon with and will be solid defensively, especially with such a young core of talented D-men for them to mold. Also with Hunter, this gives Oates the opportunity to focus on the offense and power play units, much like he did in New Jersey, without having to worry about the defense.
Needless to say, I am very excited to see what changes this new coaching staff brings to this team. With this group behind the bench, I see the Capitals finally finding that elusive identity, somewhere in between Boudreau's offensive juggernaut and Hunters defensive grinders. I believe.
And as always, Let's Go Caps!!