To the surprise of not many, Dale Hunter stepped down this afternoon as head coach of the Washington Capitals after taking over for Bruce Boudreau in November. Almost as soon as he took on the coach, the speculation began about how long Hunter would last in D.C. after signing a 1-year deal and having a successful junior hockey team in London of the OHL to fall back on should things not work out.
They did work out as Hunter led the Capitals within a victory of the Eastern Conference Final, but in the end the choice came down to family.
"It's a tough decision," Hunter said. "When I retired as a hockey player, I had to retire because I wasn't that good anymore, I guess you want to say. This was a tough decision. I enjoyed coaching these guys here and being back to the team. I always figure, it's not my team but Ted's team, but it's still my team. It was the right thing for me and my family."
"It was a tough choice," Hunter said when asked if he was tempted to see his work done this season into the next. "Even if they win the Stanley Cup next year, I feel like I'm part of it. I'll always be part of it."
Hunter's London Knights team that he co-owns with his brother Mark will be playing in the Memorial Cup beginning this weekend. He said he doesn't plan to return behind the Knights' bench this season, preferring to be "a fan" during the tournament.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy