With a quarter of the season gone, some may feel that coaching changes are a bit premature. But as we saw with the St. Louis Blues, it’s never too early to fire a coach.
Case in point: I was listening to the radio this morning when I heard breaking news: Bruce Boudreau had been fired from the Washington Capitals, with Dale Hunter taking his place. I’d heard rumblings about that over the weekend, but I figured he’d be the last of the coaches with “YOU IN DANGER GURL” written on their contracts to be canned. I’m still stunned.
Then I get online and find that Paul Maurice was fired from the Carolina Hurricanes and will be replaced with Kirk Muller. Although I have a strong dislike of the Canes (carryover from the Thrashers), I feel bad for Paul, because he’s dealing with a team whose captain, Eric Staal, is struggling to gain a footing this season (it’s so bad that Emma dropped him from her fantasy team). The same can be said of Brucey, because Alex Ovechkin isn’t having the season we’d expect from him, either (although I’m keeping the faith and letting him stay on my fantasy team). I’d also point to Mike Green’s injury as another reason for the Caps’ flameout, which is out of anyone’s hands. But beyond the struggles of their captains, both teams are having a tough run so far this season.
And now it hits me that I’ve heard Dale Hunter’s name before – he’d previously coached the OHL’s London Knights and mentored such NHL stars as Dan Girardi, Sam Gagner, Corey Perry, Rick Nash, Michael Del Zotto, John Carlson and Patrick Kane. In his 11 years he garnered a record of 451-189-23-24, and he has the best winning percentage in the history of the Ontario Hockey League. He’s also a former Cap whose number was retired. He holds the franchise record for most penalty minutes (2,003) and is best known for being given one of the longest suspensions in NHL history: 21 games for a late hit on Pierre Turgeon of the New York Islanders during the 1993 playoffs (the hit was so bad that Turgeon’s shoulder was separated).
Can Dale Hunter inject some new life into the Caps? Can Kirk Muller give the Canes the boost they desperately need? Only time will tell.