Caps GM George McPhee fired head coach Bruce Boudreau this morning. McPhee named former Washington Capital defenseman Dale Hunter as Boudreau's replacement. It really is not a shock. After some troubling losses to under-manned Toronto (7-1) and Buffalo (5-1), it was becoming increasingly evident that Boudreau lost the locker room. Whether it was the way he handled players, constant line changes, three system changes in three years, or a fractured relationship with Alexander Ovechkin that led to the move, it was clear, with the downward spiraling Caps, that a move, and a significant one at that, needed to be made.
Boudreau coached the Capitals for three and half seasons, compiling a 201-88-40 record over that time frame. Boudreau led the Capitals to the playoff in all four seasons he served as bench boss, but his playoff stumbles are what put Boudreau on the hot seat the last two seasons. Boudreau'sd Caps were ousted in the opening round twice and ousted int he semi-final the other two times. Despite the heavy talent and two President Trophies, the Capitals failed to reach the Eastern Conference finals in any season, heightening criticism that his system was soft and his style of play was not playoff conducive.
Replacing Boudreau is former Washington Capital great Dale Hunter. Hunter played 20 season in the NHL (1977-1999) the last 12 with the Capitals (1988-1999) Hunter's jersey, #32, was retired by the Capitals on March 11, 2000. Over twenty season, Hunter played in 1,407 games and scored 323 goals and added 697 assists. He racked up 3,563 penalty minutes over that span.
As for coaching, Hunter has coached the London Knights since 2001-02. In ten seasons, Hunter has led the Knights to a first place division finish in 6 of those season and led the Knights to the playoffs each season. He won the Memorial Cup in 2004-05.
Welcome back Dale!