Hunter ready for no-frills debut

Hunter ready for no-frills debut
November 29, 2011, 6:48 pm
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Now that theyve hired Dale Hunter as their new head coach, the Capitals might want to give the 51-year-old native of Petrolia, Ontario a clothing allowance.

Hunter said hell wear the only suit he owns tonight when he makes his debut behind the bench against the St. Louis Blues, a team that has turned around their season since hiring Ken Hitchcock earlier this month.

Hunter has been wearing the same blue suit since 2006, the year after his London Knights won the Memorial Cup. Legend has it that after that championship, players were so tired of seeing Hunter wear the same tan sport coat they dragged it to center ice and beat it with a stick.

Hunter may not be changing his wardrobe tonight, but he has tweaked the system former coach Bruce Boudreau installed during training camp.

Every coach has different systems and mine are different than Bruces, Hunter said.

Hunter said his new team will employ an aggressive forecheck, but it will also hound the puck in all three zones with backside pressure.

He said ice time will be earned, not given, and will be awarded on a game-by-game basis.

Minutes are judged by how well you play that game, always that game, Hunter said. Its a reward system here. If you deserve more, youre gonna get more. If the team is going right and everyones firing on all cylinders, Ill roll all four lines.

As for Alex Ovechkin, Hunter used him down low on the first power play unit, not on the point, where Ovechkin has said he prefers to play.

Alex is a big part of the team and a big part of the power play and we told him what we want him to do, Hunter said.

Hunter said he wants Ovechkin to lead in whatever way he feels comfortable and trusts that he will be an excellent captain.

Theres always different captains, he said. A lot of captains lead on the ice by playing hard and hitting people and scoring goals. Some are more vocal in the dressing room. Everybody has to be their own type of captain. Hes got to be a big part of the game every night, and in the dressing room hes got to give these guys confidence.