Photo credit: Chris Gordon
When Dale Hunter was first hired as Caps head coach, old-time fans of the team assumed #32 would bring his fiery nature behind the bench. Instead, Hunter has been cool, calm, and collected, rarely losing his composure or seeming visibly upset.
“I hear you guys asking about a different mental toughness,” Brooks Laich said, explaining the connection between their coach and the Caps’ new grinding identity. “It’s a different makeup of the team, a little bit. It comes from our head coach. He’s a very calm, composed guy behind the bench. I said it from day one when he got here: He runs a tight ship and we draw a lot from him.”
There have been a few times, however, that Hunter has has raised his voice. One of those times was before overtime of Game Seven. On April 26th, the day after the Capitals first round series win, George McPhee touched on an intriguing story on NHL Live.
“He’s a quiet guy,” McPhee said. “He’s always been that way. He doesn’t get too excited, but has a nice rapport with the players. If he does raise his voice — which I think he’s done twice in five months — the players certainly pay attention. And he did so before overtime [of Game Seven], but in a fun way.”
Quote comes at the 6:08 mark.
I had always been wondering what Dale said, so I decided to ask Matt Hendricks about the speech at yesterday’s practice. Here is Hendy’s take on it:
It was pretty neat actually. He came in and he just told us to embrace this, overtime, Game Seven. Just kind of an “it doesn’t get much better than this” type of thing. It felt like he was one of the players. He came in and didn’t talk like he was a coach. He didn’t come in and do X’s and O’s, tell us where we had to be better in areas. He just came in and talked like he was one of the guys again, like he was playing. Just enjoy it. Go out and work as hard as you can and get the win. It was an inspiring little speech. I don’t know if he meant it to be that way but it was, and we won, and that’ll be looked at as a great turning point in our season.
Of all people, Dale would know.