F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 11/28/11 at 12:29 PM ET
added 2:05pm (Paul), added video below of GM George McPhee explaining the change.
Shortly after 8 am this morning, the Washington Capitals announced that Bruce Boudreau had been fired after 4 years as the head coach, having been replaced by former Capital captain, Dale Hunter. Hunter played 12 seasons with the Washington Capitals and is the only NHL player to have amassed 1,000 career points and 3,000 PIMs. He had spent the last 10 years coaching the OHL’s London Knights, having coached both John Carlson and Dennis Wideman. This will be Hunter’s first ever NHL coaching job.
I think most fans/writers saw a move like this happen. While I didn’t expect it to happen today, I didn’t see Bruce coaching many more games. I thought the fact that the Caps were about to start a 3-game homestand would have given Bruce another chance to turn the team around. Unfortunately, when you get waxed 5-1 to a team that started 9 AHLers, you tend to not be trusted. Bruce is a good head coach, but his change in strategy doomed him from the start.
I wrote over the weekend about how Bruce’s attempt to implement a hybrid-defensive style was a mistake. The Capitals’ roster has too many purely offensive players to succeed under a system that holds them back. McPhee gave Boudreau a high quality roster, but it was Bruce’s job to find the best way to utilize these players. It might be cliché, but Bruce was simply trying to put too many square pegs in round holes. I was hoping he would see the error in his ways and revert back to the old style, but obviously he will not have the chance.
Many are focusing on Ovechkin’s role in the coaching style. He is being painted as this spoiled player, who simply stopped playing until a change was made. I firmly believe that Ovechkin did not quit on Bruce. From my vantage point, Ovechkin has quit on himself. His style and Bruce’s style simply were not a recipe for success, and this obviously had to frustrate him. This is a player that wants to be the best and wants to win it all, but he was put into a system that handcuffed him. So before everybody goes off the deep end and calls for him to be berated and stripped of captaincy, take a deep breath. All he, and this team for the matter, needs is somebody to put them in a position to succeed. I really hope Hunter realizes what these players CAN do, and not what he wants them do.
The Caps have pushed back practice to 11 am, with a Hunter press conference after, so I should have more then. It will be interesting to see how much he can change before the Caps take the ice tomorrow against St. Louis. While there will be some hiccups, Hunter’s first real test is rather early, as the Penguins come to town on Thursday. The Caps haven’t had a regular season loss to Pittsburgh in regulation since March 2008.
added 2:05pm (Paul), added video of GM George McPhee explaining the change.
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
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