Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 05/14/12 at 03:45 PM ET
from Tarik El—Bashir of Capitals Insider,
Dale Hunter informed Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee during a meeting this morning that he will be stepping down as head coach.
“This was a tough decision,” Hunter said Monday. “It was the right thing for me and my family.”
Hunter had presided over the Capitals since Nov. 28, when he replaced Bruce Boudreau, who was fired. Hunter racked up a 37-37 record (including overtime, shootout losses and playoff games) and directed Washington within a game of advancing to the franchise’s first Eastern Conference finals berth in 14 years.
“Dale and I met about 10 o’clock and he let me know that he will not be able to return as the coach,” McPhee said, speaking on breakdown day at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “He’s going to head back to London [Ontario]. I guess we’re all fathers and sons and husbands first before anything else, and if we have our priorities right in this life, family comes first. And Dale needs to go home.”
added 3:25pm, from Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press,
He also was clear about what his role would be with the Knights, a team he owns and coached for 10 years before moving to the Capitals, when the Knights begin their Memorial Cup tournament Saturday in Sawinigan.
“I’m a fan,” he said. “No, no, no, I won’t be behind the bench. Mark has done a great job and they don’t need anything to change.
“I am excited about seeing them because I left after 10, 15 games and they are so much better now. That’s what’s really exciting for me.”
Hunter said there was nothing decided about next year either.
“Right now Mark is the coach,” he said. “This is why we call it a family business. I’m just happy to be getting back to it, scouting, finding players, whatever I need to do.”
Hunter also quickly dispelled the notion that he left because he didn’t feel he could impose his style for another year with superstar players like Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
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