Hunter says Caps need his experience

Hunter says Caps need his experience
July 23, 2012, 8:15 pm
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In 16 years as an NHL player, Tim Hunter suited up for 815 regular season games and another 132 in the playoffs.

He went to the Stanley Cup Final three times as a player, winning the Cup in 1989 with the Calgary Flames

In 13 years as an NHL assistant coach, Hunter worked 1,041 regular season games and reached the Stanley Cup Final in 1998 under former Capitals coach Ron Wilson.

So it should come as no surprise that when asked what hell bring to Adam Oates staff as a newly appointed assistant coach, Hunter thumbed through a resume that is nearly 30 years in the making.

Every organization needs experience, whether its in management, scouting or with the players, Hunter, 51, said Monday in a conference call. Its the same with coaching.

You need experience on a coaching staff. I talked to Adam early on and he was looking for someone with experience and I definitely have that. Im a career assistant coach and Im looking forward to helping Adam and Calle Johansson become better coaches and the Caps become a better organization.

Hunters coaching career has come full circle. Capitals general manager George McPhee gave him his first coaching job in 1997 after Hunter retired as a player at the age of 36. Fifteen years later, Hunter is coming back to D.C., where he coached under Wilson from 1997-2002.

Hunter said he learned a lot under Wilson and fellow Caps assistant Tim Army in those first few years in Washington and says now its now my turn to do the same thing for Oates, who has three years of experience as an NHL assistant, and Johansson, who has none.

The most important thing is how you treat the players, Hunter said. I got into this to treat the players the way I liked to be treated. You always have to separate the player from the person.

If he had a bad game hes not a bad guy. You have to make the players enjoy coming to the rink and working hard.

Each of Hunters 13 seasons as an NHL assistant has come under Wilson. They worked together in Washington, San Jose and Toronto before Hunter was replaced by Scott Gordon following the Maple Leafs 2010-11 season.

A native of Calgary, Hunter spent last season as an instructor at the Okanagan Hockey School in Penticton, British Columbia. And while he appreciated the opportunity to work with young players, Hunter called NHL coaching jobs precious and said he wanted to get back to coaching at the highest level in the world.

Hunter said he expects the Capitals personality to reflect some of the character traits of Wilson, their 57-year-old former coach who was fired by the Leafs midway through last season. Hunter said the Capitals will play aggressive hockey with an engaging defense, a system he and Oates and Johansson learned under Wilson.

Ron Wilson, in my mind, is one of the most intelligent people in the game and definitely Adam is right there with the intelligence level, Hunter said.

As for the 2012-13 Capitals, Hunter said he believes the teams new coaching staff has a lot with which to work.

They have tremendous potential and thats our job -- to make sure they reach that potential, Hunter said. They have some exciting, talented players on defense and lots of talent up front.