One of these days, Ovie. Bang! Zoom! Straight to the moon!
When Dale Hunter replaced Bruce Boudreau as the coach of the Washington Capitals on November 28, 2011, there was some question about whether Hunter, whose 11 years of coaching experience were limited to Ontario Junior hockey, could handle the transition to the NHL.
Capitals' General Manager George McPhee dismissed the concern right away, explaining, "Coaching is coaching." He added, "The same questions were asked of [Boudreau] when he came here, and he had an outstanding record."
But, thus far, the only indication that Hunter's an NHL coach is the fact that his record bears a troubling similarity to the NHL coach he replaced. Since taking over for Boudreau, Hunter is a mediocre 20-19-4, a step backwards from Boudreau's 12-9-1 record at the time of his dismissal.
To some, this might be an indication that the problem was never coaching after all, that the Capitals simply have the wrong personnel mix. But, 43 games into Hunter's tenure, it's still difficult to say exactly how this roster would fare under the new system he was supposed to implement.
According to defenseman Karl Alzner, the Capitals don't really know what it is yet.
During a live interview with Dan Kingerski on Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, Alzner touched on life under Hunter. He noted that Hunter was a great deal quieter than Bruce Boudreau, and that he left a lot to his assistants. Then he added this wrinkle:
"We've changed systems a little bit. We've changed the lineup here and there and called guys up and sent guys down. It's been a lot of trial and error. We're still trying to figure out the one all-around system that seems to work for us."
If I'm a Capitals fan -- heck, if I'm a member of Capitals management -- this is an unnerving statement.
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