ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have named Dale Hunter the team’s head coach, replacing Bruce Boudreau, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.
Hunter, 51, becomes the 15th coach in Washington Capitals history and will make his debut behind the bench tomorrow as the Capitals host the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center.
Hunter helped the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) win their first Memorial Cup Championship in 2004-05 and is the fastest head coach in OHL history to record 300 and 400 career wins. The Petrolia, Ont., native owns the highest winning percentage in league history with a record of 451-189-23-24 (.691) in his 11 seasons behind the bench for London and was the 2003-04 winner of the Brian Kilrea Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Coach of the Year.
Hunter played 19 seasons in the NHL from 1980-99, appearing in 1,407 games and collecting 1,020 points (323 goals, 697 assists) along with 3,565 penalty minutes with Quebec, Washington and Colorado.
Hunter is one of just four players to have their numbers retired by the Washington Capitals as his No. 32 was retired by the team on March 11, 2000. Hunter captained the Capitals from the 1994-95 season until the 1998-99 season and was named to the NHL All-Star Team in 1997. He played in 872 games for the Capitals from 1987-99 and compiled 556 points (181 goals, 375 goals) and 2,003 penalty minutes. Hunter ranks first all-time in Capitals’ history in penalty minutes, fourth in games played, tied for ninth in goals and third in assists. His 100 career playoff games with the Capitals rank tied for first in team history while his 72 points and 47 assists both lead the franchise.
Hunter is the only player in NHL history to record more than 1,000 points and 3,000 penalty minutes. He ranks second in NHL history in penalty minutes, 53rd in assists and 73rd all-time in points and his 186 playoff games rank tied for 23rd all-time. He was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the second round (41st overall) of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.
This season the Knights lead the OHL with a 20-5-0-1 record and 41 points. Hunter earned his 450th career win on Saturday, Nov. 26 in a 7-2 win over Erie. The Knights are currently the top-ranked team in the CHL and have been ranked No. 1 for seven of the 10 weeks this season and each of the past six weeks (CHL’s Top 10 teams are selected by a panel of National Hockey League scouts). During his time in London, Hunter has coached current Capitals defensemen John Carlson and Dennis Wideman and has worked with numerous other current NHL players such as Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Kane and John Tavares.
London has won 50 or more games three times and finished first in the OHL four times under Hunter, including a CHL record-setting season in 2004-05 when the Knights finished with a record of 59-7-2-0 and went 20-2-0-0 in the playoffs on the way to the first Memorial Cup championship in London history.