BUFFALO, N.Y. | Memories of Dale Hunter the player aren’t too fond in places like Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Long Island. Ron Hextall, Ulf Samuelsson and Pierre Turgeon highlights make the Washington Capitals’ coach the villain.
He’s also that in Buffalo, but more so for his time with the Quebec Nordiques when they were Adams Division rivals with the Sabres. Asked by a local reporter what it was like to be the most hated man in town, Hunter chuckled.
“That’s a long time ago,” he said. “When you come here, you know you’re playing hard and sometimes stuff happens out there.”
Some of that “stuff” happened against Sabres coach Lindy Ruff back when they were opponents.
“There’s a lot of history there, yeah – some of it good, some of it bad,” Ruff said. “That’s the type of player he was. He wasn’t an easy guy to play against.”
Neither was Ruff, apparently.
“He’s a competitor. When you know you’re in a game when Lindy’s around, he’s gonna finish his checks hard and play hard out there,” Hunter said. “You expect it. That’s why it was good battles.”
Playing and coaching are two different things, as Mike Knuble admitted that Hunter isn’t the same behind the bench as he was during his days with the Nordiques, Caps and Colorado Avalanche.
But the reaction from the Buffalo crowd is very likely to be the same.
“I’m sure they’ll boo him tonight when they announce his name,” Knuble said.