- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Those who have played for Glen Hanlon say hes fun-loving. He chuckled at the memory of the music thumping loudly in the locker room of his minor league Portland Pirates. But the man who hired Hanlon as coach of the Washington Capitals yesterday knows that there is another side to the 46-year-old native of Brandon, Manitoba.

“Glen was an ultra-competitive guy,” recalled Caps general manager George McPhee, Hanlons teammate on the New York Rangers from 1983 to 1986. “When he was playing that night, he wouldnt talk to anybody during the day. Glen was never reluctant to set the tone for the team in terms of straightening people up. I remember Tomas Sandstrom shooting the puck at his head and Glen chasing him down the ice because the kid wasnt doing the right things.”

Hanlon is still all business on the ice as he was in running his first Caps practice yesterday at Piney Orchard. Unlike fired predecessor Bruce Cassidy, who couldnt be heard from the stands, Hanlons voice boomed as he diagrammed plays for the last-place Caps, who play their first game for him tonight against Boston at MCI Center.

“We really try to create a teaching environment,” Hanlon said. “Teams that are successful never stop learning or teaching their players. It was always a good environment in Portland. The players worked hard. The music always seemed to be fairly loud. It was always fun coming to the rink. Thats what were going to have here. When that environment is created, usually the wins seem to come.”

Caps goalie Sebastien Charpentier played on all three of Hanlons Portland teams and said that the coach “is smart and works really hard” but also “knows how to reward guys.”

Left wing Matt Pettinger said Hanlon is the right man to try to change the fortunes of the 8-18-1-1 Caps, who are in serious jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the third time in six years after doing so just once in the previous 16 seasons.

“You never know which team is going to show up,” said Pettinger, another ex-Pirate. “Weve got to get back to being consistent, working hard and playing the right system every night. Glen proved himself on the minor league level and he can help us. There were some little things different in practice today. We worked on our forecheck a bit, different neutral zone plays and on the positioning of our defensemen. It will take 10 to 12 games to adjust to a new system and hopefully turn the boat around.”

A sub.-500 goalie during 14 seasons with Vancouver, St. Louis, the Rangers and Detroit, Hanlon isnt one for the spotlight. He loved coaching in Portland and was fairly content as an assistant for the fired Bruce Cassidy even though he was more experienced.

“The main reason I got into coaching was that I didnt want to work 50 weeks a year,” Hanlon said. “I wanted to make sure that I stayed in the game. I love everything about the game. I was about three days on the job in Vancouver when I realized that is way more enjoyable than playing goal.”

And if Cassidy was a total stranger to almost everyone in Washington when McPhee picked him over Hanlon in June 2002, Hanlon is well-steeped in Caps tradition after four-plus seasons in the organization.

“There have always been some great people in this organization who have always put team first,” Hanlon said. “We want to make sure that tradition continues that everything is to do with the group. The defensive play in this organization has always been second to none. Well work on the process for the next three or four months and well accept whatever fate comes our way.”

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