Two days after re-joining the Capitals as head coach, Dale Hunter made his first big change by naming Jim Johnson as an assistant late Tuesday night. Johnson — a former bruising NHL defenseman who played in 829 career games (121 as a Cap) — will replace Bob Woods who was in his third year with the team. Johnson accumulated over 100 penalty minutes in seven of his 13 seasons in the NHL and has coached before. During the 2009-10 season, he was an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He then took over the head coaching position mid-season for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals putting up a 15-5-0-2 record in 22 games. With the Capitals’ defense floundering and ranked 28th in the league in goals against, the move certainly makes sense.
The most interesting part of the hire, however, is the fact that Hunter and Johnson actually fought each other twice during their NHL careers. Hockeyfights.com has video of their second bout from November 18, 1992 which I’ve embedded above. Hunter brutalizes Johnson in the scuffle landing eight-straight punches before the fight is broken up by the linesmen. Boys will be boys.
So did Hunter ever fight the other assistant currently on his staff, Dean Evason? The answer — amazingly — is yes. During his time with the Nordiques, Hunter dropped the mitts with Evason three times in the same game on December 31, 1985.
Finally, I wondered if Capitals’ General Manager George McPhee — who was given the nickname “The Undertaker” for his after-whistle antics — had ever dropped the gloves with any members of his new coaching staff.
Sadly, after some thorough research, McPhee never did. He did, however, fight one of Dale’s three brothers, Dave, on February 2, 1985 when he played for the Rangers. Also notable: GMGM has fought Rick Tocchet, a player he traded for on March 1, 1997.
And that’s why I love hockey.