A Man of Few WordsPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
In his days as captain of the Washington Capitals, Dale Hunter was a man of few words. He preferred to let his on-ice work do the talking. Now that he is in the coaching racket, Hunter spends more time than he’d like chatting with media. During his playing days, Hunter wasn’t the type to hold court for the media in front of his stall. If you needed to talk to him, he’d talk. You’d ask the questions, he’d answer. No more, no less. Elaboration wasn’t his forte, and it wasn’t necessary. If you needed to know more, you just watched the game. When I needed to write about Dale Hunter in those days, I usually went to a teammate. Calle Johansson, Kelly Miller, Steve Konowalchuk and others were were always happy to chat about their quiet teammate. Brendan Witt adored Hunter and wasn’t shy about expressing it. When Witt went to the New York Islanders as a free agent some years back, his familiar No. 19 sweater wasn’t available to him; it had been retired in honor of the great Bryan Trottier. Needing a new sweater number, Witt didn’t hesitate. He asked for, received and wore proudly No. 32. In a brief chat with Hunter this morning before he took to the Kettler ice sheet to conduct his first practice, Hunter talked about wanting to have an offensive club, one that forechecked hard and made life difficult for foes in the attack zone. But he also said he’d expect his players to backcheck as hard and not shirk their defensive responsibilities. The Caps are just finishing their first session under Hunter now. They’ve been on the ice for 75 minutes and counting. When they’re finished, Hunter will hold court for the media. He’s still a man of few words. He’ll talk about forechecking, the need for every guy on the Washington roster to be better, about the need for raising one’s level of play once the playoffs arrive. The sound bites won’t remind anyone of his predecessor, and that will be fine with Hunter. It’s a results oriented business, as today reminds us. He won’t mind being judged by the work he does behind the bench.
Just over four years ago, the Washington Capitals turned to Bruce Boudreau 21 games into a season that had gotten off to a rocky 6-14-1 start. The Caps hired Boudreau from its AHL Hershey affiliate as the team’s interim head coach on Nov. 22, 2007 to replace Glen Hanlon. Now, 22 games into the