It’s official – Dale Hunter will no longer man the reins as head coach for the Washington Capitals.
Hunter, who took over as skipper of the Capitals in November and guided them within one victory of the NHL playoff semi-finals, resigned on Monday.
While some fans questioned if Hunter, 51, was fired from the team, the former star player-turned coach put a stop to any rumors from forming by announcing to the Capitals that he wants to return to his family in Canada.
“I’m going home,” Hunter said, a couple of hours after delivering the news to Capitals general manager George McPhee. “This was a tough decision. I’ve got a good thing going there with the family, so I’ll stay home.”
According to Sports Illustrated, the move was not unexpected as Hunter had not asked McPhee for a multi-year contract when he joined the Capitals.
The magazine added that the GM doesn’t have a specific timetable for finding a replacement for Hunter, saying it might happen by the NHL draft in June or perhaps not until August.
“I’m not in any rush,” McPhee said.
In his short time as coach, Hunter, whose number is retired in Washington, racked up a 30-23-7 record in the regular season.
In his 19 seasons — 11 of those were spent with the Capitals — as a player in the NHL, Dale Hunter put together a set of impressive numbers including 323 goals and 697 assists for 1,020 points in 1,407 games. He also ranks 2nd in NHL history for most penalty minutes (3565).
Hunter finished off his career in 1999 with the Colorado Avalanche, the successor to the Nordiques, and helped the team to reach the Western Conference finals, losing in seven games to the eventual cup winners Dallas Stars.