Hunter addresses future in Washington

Hunter addresses future in Washington
May 13, 2012, 3:13 pm
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If there is one thing weve learned about Dale Hunter in his six months behind the Capitals bench its that hes perfected the art of keeping inside information on the inside.Moments after addressing his players following Saturday nights season-ending 2-1 loss to the Rangers in Madison Square Garden, Hunter was asked if hes considered his future with the Capitals.Thats not the time right now, he said.But when asked if he enjoyed his first experience as an NHL coach, the 51-year-old native of Petrolia, Ontario provided a glimpse of his intentions.Coachings the next best thing to playing, Hunter said. To be involved in the Stanley Cup playoffs, its a privilege to try to take a run at it again.When Hunter agreed to replace Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 28 he reportedly signed a contract that only took him through the end of this season. Capitals general manager George McPhee has never confirmed that report, keeping all contractual information confidential.As co-owner of the Ontario Hockey Leagues London Knights, Hunter has the built-in option of returning to his junior team and saying goodbye to his brief career as an NHL coach, in which his team went 30-23-7 in the regular season and 7-7 in the playoffs.His London Knights won the OHL title last week, clinching a berth in the Memorial Cup playoffs to determine the best junior hockey team in Canada. Hunter could conduct post-season player interviews, pack his bags and be back in Petrolia by the end of this week.But will he?Hes obviously done a good job with our club, Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said. We were counted out in the first round and here we are in Game Seven. We ended up losing, but I think he did a good job. Hes a good presence behind the bench and I think whatever it is will work itself out with him.A month ago the support for Hunter inside the Capitals locker room might have been split down the middle. But defenseman Karl Alzner said last week that the team would be adversely affected by another coaching change and that the Capitals actually need Hunter to return.It would be very, very tough, Alzner said about a coaching change. The way were playing hockey right now is a good way to play hockey and you dont really want to mess with it. I would say, yes, we need him to come back if you want us to continue to play this style of hockey.Hunter seemed to form a bond with his players over the course of the past four weeks, convincing them to play a style that led them lead all NHL playoff teams in blocked shots and ranking second in hits. And, at least from the outside, it seems to be a bond he is not ready to break.There is a lot of character in that room, Hunter said in his post-game news conference. Character is a big word and it means a lot. You see how we played and the sacrifices you have to make. In that room there, they did it. They played the type of hockey you have to play to win. We just came up a goal short.