At today’s breakdown news conference, Washington Capitals GM George McPhee announced that Dale Hunter resigned as coach of the team, citing family concerns. McPhee said that Hunter informed him that he would not return, choosing to return to his home in Ontario and his responsibilities with the London Knights, a major juniors franchise he owns with this brother Mark.
“I don’t think winning would have changed his mind,” McPhee said.
Hunter guided the Caps to within one game of the Eastern Conference finals, but his record with the Caps was an even .500 over the course of his tenure including overtime and shootouts (30-23-7 in the regular season).
“[The players] all wanted to win but didn’t know how,” McPhee said of a man he always wanted to coach the Caps, “and he showed them.”
McPhee indicated that Hunter’s decision had nothing to do with the team, performance or situation.
“We didn’t know if [Hunter] could do it beyond this season,” McPhee said of Hunter’s hiring, but McPhee indicated he would have taken Hunter for whatever length of time Hunter made available. In the end, that length of time was 60 regular season games and another 14 playoff matches.
On the team’s search for a replacement, McPhee said, “I haven’t thought about it a whole lot.”
“We’re going to take our time and get the right person.”
Hunter stepped to the microphone after McPhee addressed the media and spoke his own words of his decision.
“It was a tough decision,” Hunter said. “But it was the right one for me and my family.”
Hunter pledged his lifetime allegiance to the organization, saying, “I’m always with the Washington Capitals. I’d love to bring a Stanley Cup here. The fans are great, the team’s playing the right way. I’m proud of these guys for sacrificing and doing what it takes to win.”
Hunter indicated that there was no premeditated decision to only stay the end of the season, that the decision would be revisited at the end of the season.
But the pull to go back to his juniors team and farm in Ontario was too much to ignore. “Going back to the family business outweighed [winning the Cup]”.
“I’m very proud of the team and how we played.”
We’ll have more on Hunter’s resignation later on DistrictSportsPage.com.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.