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Brooks Laich tried to convince Dale Hunter to stay on as Caps coach

May 15, 2012, 5:45 PM EDT

Brooks Laich Getty Images

Over at CSN Washington, there’s a boatload of quotes and anecdotes from a stunned Washington Capitals group, trying to come to grips with the resignation of head coach Dale Hunter.

It seems the Caps were genuinely surprised by Hunter’s decision to leave. Brooks Laich said it caught him off guard, “because I thought [Hunter] really enjoyed it.”

“I just had a short chat with him and shook his hand and asked him if there’s anything I can do to convince him to stay,” Laich explained. “I was sort of shocked when I found out, but he will be missed.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner was also stunned to learn the news.

“It surprised me  a fair bit,” Alzner said. “I didn’t know what to expect, I knew it was a possibility but I think it’s taken a lot of guys by surprise.”

After surprise, the next most common reaction was disappointment.

From Mike Green (“We’re sad to see him go”) to Nicklas Backstrom (“It kind of sucks, actually”) to Jay Beagle (“It wasn’t what I wanted to hear”), the news of losing Hunter hit hard.

Beagle went to far as to say he “loved” Hunter as a coach and that sentiment seemed to stretch across a number of guys who experienced winning in a whole new way this postseason.

For the first time in a long time, the Capitals won playoff games they weren’t supposed to. They also showed a gritty, determined, resilient side many weren’t sure they had. Their seven-game ouster of the defending Cup champion Bruins and pushing the top-seeded Rangers to the brink said a lot about how much the team had grown.

The Capitals, in turn, explained that their playoff success said a lot about Hunter.

“He taught us as much about leadership and team aspect, and respect amongst players and trust in teammates as he did about hockey,” Laich said. “It’s like having another veteran in the locker room.

“He was great.”

  1. capsfan19 - May 15, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    This is exactly why ovi should NOT be captain. I doubt he ever talks about those things in the locker room.

    • ravenscaps48 - May 15, 2012 at 7:17 PM

      BROOKS LAICH FOR CAPTAIN!!!

      • crazemastercraze - May 15, 2012 at 7:33 PM

        definitely. and give their mvp of the year chimera the A!!!

      • rg3isvictory - May 15, 2012 at 11:13 PM

        Agreed!!!

    • DTF31 - May 15, 2012 at 7:49 PM

      2 things that strike me about Ovi as captain is 1) It seems like it was an OWNERSHIP decision to give him the C vs the coach/players and 2) when he talked about jealousy/divisions in the room. Thats his damn job to fix as el capitano.

  2. grimlock410 - May 15, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    Ow wow dale hunter was so great. I can’t remember the last time the caps made it to the 2nd round. Oh wait that was last year, with out him. I hate all the talking coming from our locker room. Stay to your own get your own, stop worrying about the other people’s S.

    • dipthatchip - May 16, 2012 at 11:25 AM

      the flip are you talking about. Last year was a horrendous playoff run. Sure we ousted the (very different than now) Rangers in 5 games, but we came in as the top seed and then got swept in the second round with none of our players showing any emotion.

      This year we had a bleak season, coaching change, and barely squeaked into the playoffs. Went on to oust the defending champs and pushed the #1 seed to a very close series of seven. Caps could easily be in the ECF if it weren’t for the nightmarish collapse at the end of game 5.

      Hunter took a team divided and (whether some players liked it or not) got them to buy into his style at the most important time.

      Not defending his NHL career at all, but he was a hell of a coach for the Caps and I’m bummed to see him go.

  3. watermelon1 - May 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    The bottom line is… Hunter got no further than. Bordreau….

    The problem is this team has no real defenders, just like it has been since forever. They sacrificed all their high scoring of a couple years ago to try and fix that, but really the only thing that happened is their best offensive players started focusing on defense. Ovechkin and Backstrom are their most physical players, and that’s sad to say. When this team gets a couple defenseman… Then their goal scoters can go back to scoring goals and perhaps they will finally get past game 7 in the east and maybe even make a Stanley cup before their window closes.

  4. blastardo - May 16, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    Hunter didn’t get any further than Boudreau but he sure did get close. Not to mention they defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions and pushed an in form Rangers side to the brink.

    Every Cap fan should be sad to see him go since he created the best Capitals playoff team anyone has seen in years. It would have been no surprise if the Caps got to the ECF.

    And Laich should be captain. No buts about it.

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