Once again, the Washington Capitals have reached into the past, hiring former assistant coach Tim Hunter to fill the same position Monday.
Hunter, who most recently was an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2008-11, was a Caps assistant under former head coach Ron Wilson from 1997-2002. Coincidentally, Hunter will join two players that he coached -- Adam Oates and Calle Johansson -- behind Washington's bench.
Both Oates and Johansson are about to enter their first seasons in their respective positions, so Oates reached out to Hunter, who has 1,041 games of NHL experience to his credit.
"Every organization needs experience," Hunter said Monday. "You need experience on the coaching staff. I talked to Adam early on and he was looking for someone with experience and I definitely have that. I'm a career assistant coach and I'm looking forward to helping Adam and Calle become better coaches and the Caps to become a better organization."
The 51-year-old Calgary native, who is not related to former head coach Dale Hunter, has been an assistant coach for Washington, Toronto and the San Jose Sharks. Hunter followed Wilson to all three destinations and is ready for the challenge of working under a new regime.
"it's definitely going to be interesting," he said, adding that he believes Oates' hockey intelligence is on par with Wilson's. "I started off with the Caps 15 years ago with Ron and I was a first-time coach. I was able to learn the ropes and become an entrepreneur at my own position. That was through good guidance by Ron and Tim Army. Tim taught me how to be a professional coach and I learned a tremendous amount from him."
"It's my turn to do the same thing," he continued. "It’s quite a full circle when you look at my coaching path when you look at Adam and Calle and [associate goalie coach] Olie Kolzig. I’ll now be coaching with them. I would like to think somewhere along the line I was part of helping them become better people and allow them to become NHL coaches.”
Before he was a coach, Hunter played for four teams over 16 seasons, winning a Stanley Cup in 1989 with his hometown Flames (to add even more of a connection to Washington, Hunter's time with the Vancouver Canucks from 1993-1996 coincided with Caps General Manager George McPhee's tenure as the team's director of hockey operations before the two joined the Caps in 1997). Hunter was an aggressive player, racking up 3.146 penalty minutes, and he likes for his team to play the same way.
"Adam and I discussed that a little bit to this point," Hunter said. "Definitely aggressive hockey, everyone a part of the play. There's some good young defense on the Caps, some guys with some great skill, and definitely lots of skill upfront, so we're looking forward to putting all that skill to use."
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