So many times over my broadcasting career, I have heard a player or coach say that they are resigning or even retiring in order to return home and spend time with family only to come back a short time later, inspired to continue their career. I rarely believe these words when they come out of the mouths of sports figures, but I do believe them when it comes to the Capitals' Dale Hunter.
In a six-month time frame, the man who has his jersey number up in the Verizon Center rafters came back to help his old team and literally changed the culture of a franchise by teaching the team how to win using a firm hand and no-nonsense approach.
It's no surprise why fans, players and front office management wanted Hunter to give it a full season in 2012-13 and take the Capitals even further. The fact of the matter is that Washington, D.C., was never where Hunter wanted to be long term. His love for the Capitals enabled general manager George McPhee to ease the sting of making a coaching change in the middle of the season, but London, Ont., and the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League are home for Dale Hunter.
Just 57 miles from Hunter's hometown, the Knights give Hunter a rare opportunity to intertwine hockey with his relatives. His brother, Mark ,is the Knights' co-owner, general manager and vice president. Their father, Dick, still scouts for the team at 76. Hunter's son, Dylan, is an assistant coach. His sisters and his daughter are also big supporters. Hunter explained to the media that "everybody's part of the team there."
Upon his recent departure from the Capitals, Hunter said "It was a tough decision to make, but it's still the right thing for me and my family. It's a family business, and I'll do anything that's best for the business."
I, for one, applaud Hunter for leaving home to come help right the ship of one family and then returning home to be with his other family.
Do you agree with Dale Hunter's decision not to return the Capitals next season?