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Hunters enjoy relative success running junior-league London Knights
The Knights have gone 29-13 since Mark replaced his brother, and they finished first in the Midwest Division and the Western Conference.
Scheduling Friday won’t be in Dale’s favor, as his game against the Winnipeg Jets coincides with the start of London’s first-round playoff series against the Windsor Spitfires. But he doesn’t have to worry too much about the path of his franchise. Staff members, former players and current players alike explained that not much has changed from a structural standpoint on the ice and around the team.
“They both hold their players accountable. They both know the game extremely well,” assistant GM and coach Misha Donskov said. “They both have the same hockey philosophies in terms of systems, in terms of player expectations, in terms of holding players accountable.”
Just about everyone in London who knows the Hunters said Dale is the quiet one. Mark admitted he’s the more emotional of the two, something that’s not hard to tell when witnessing Dale’s sometimes curiously calm demeanor with the Caps, a major departure from his playing days.
“There is a little difference in personality and approach, but I think Mark has developed a lot of the best of the qualities that Dale has,” Knights radio color analyst Jim Van Horne said. “And Mark now has a sense of calm back there. I find Mark very relaxed.”
Relaxed at times, but Mark Hunter isn’t afraid to get on referees and make sure coaches and other staff members do things their way.
“It’s a challenge every day,” athletic therapist Andy Scott said. “They want what they want, so you’ve got to be on your toes, which is a good thing. Get your job done, and they’re happy.”
That’s not a bad thing. It’s actually part of the reason the Knights developed into such a model junior franchise. Dark said there’s no question the Hunters are demanding, but that’s all with the motivation of getting the most out of everyone.
“It’s Hunter hockey. It’s the Hunter way,” Donskov said. “They’ve got a recipe for success, and you’ve got to follow it if you want to be part of the team.”
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