The Washington Capitals have a first-time head coach in Adam Oates, and his first hire, Calle Johansson, is a first-time assistant in the NHL. It seemed a given that the Caps would seek more experience along the bench with their final coaching move.
They did just that in hiring Tim Hunter as an assistant coach Monday. Hunter has 1,041 games of experience in that role in 13 seasons, all under Ron Wilson.
“Every organization needs experience and whether it’s in management, scouting, with the players. It’s the same with coaching; you need experience on a coaching staff,” Hunter said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “I talked to Adam early on and he was looking for someone with experience and I definitely have that. I’m a career assistant coach and I’m looking forward to helping Adam and Calle become better coaches and the Caps to become a better team. No better thing to put my experience to use: 30 years in the NHL behind the bench or on the bench.”
He spent five years with Wilson in Washington from 1998 through 2002 and followed him to San Jose and Toronto. This will be a kind of challenge for him working with a different head coach.
“It’s definitely going to be interesting. I started off with the Caps 15 years ago with Ron and I was a first-time coach,” Hunter said. “I was able to learn the ropes and become an entrepreneur in my own position.”
Hunter, 51, played 16 NHL seasons and won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989. He racked up 3,146 penalty minutes during his playing career.
Hunter’s connection to Oates is that he was on staff during the Hall of Fame center’s time with the Caps. Like Oates and Olie Kolzig, Hunter was part of the 1998 team that went to the Cup Final.
“You’re not just teaching hockey players, you’re teaching people to become better people and better hockey players. It’s quite a full circle when you look at my coaching Adam and Calle and Olie Kolzig for that matter, he’s a goalie consultant, three guys I’ll now be coaching with them,” Hunter said. “I would like to think somewhere along the line I was part of helping them become better people and allowing them to become NHL coaches.”