Perhaps no one knows Dale Hunter as well as his brother Mark. The two co-own the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, and Mark, the general manager, is taking over behind the bench for the new coach of the Washington Capitals.
Reached via phone Monday night, Mark Hunter said his brother will not have a hard time adjusting to coaching in the NHL and that he feels good about assuming Dale’s duties with the Knights.
“I think he’ll do very well. He’s well-schooled, he’s coached a lot of games and a lot of different individuals,” Mark Hunter said. “He’s coached a lot of good players who developed into real good players in our organization. I’d say he’s a coach that the team will be well-prepared.”
From a purely human/family perspective, Mark Hunter seemed thrilled that his brother was getting this chance to finally run an NHL team.
“I’m very happy for him. It’s a great shot,” Mark Hunter said. “I think the Caps have a great team and great players. I just think it’s a matter of getting them to play as a team.”
That’s the challenge for Dale Hunter. Meanwhile back in london, Mark has the responsibility of following his brother – who boasts a 451-189-23-24 record (.691 points percentage) – as London’s coach.
“I have big shoes to fill – I’ll put it that way. He’s got a .700 wining percentage here and won numerous games here per year – almost 50 games a year,” Mark Hunter said. “It’s kind of unheard of in our Ontario Hockey League; it’s an amazing job what he did. It’s big shoes. But I don’t know if I can do the same thing as he’s done. But he’s got the team in place.”
Mark said he doesn’t feel the need to deviate much from the plan Dale put into place. Dale Hunter had told the London Free-Press over the weekend that if he left, he’d feel good about putting the team in the hands of his brother and the rest of the staff already assembled.
That confidence will go a long way as the Knights sojourn on with a different Hunter making the calls as coach.
“I think it’s easy for him to go, where he knows the boys are going to be looked after,” Mark Hunter said. “I think he felt comfortable of where the team is at right now. He put a lot of work into getting this team to play as a team and to win as a team. I like to say, at the end of the day, it’s weird, but he’s got different fights right now. So hopefully we can baton down and keep on going.”