Longtime Capitals captain Dale Hunter was named head coach of Team Canada’s 2020 World Junior team on Tuesday. Hunter’s assistants will be André Tourigny (Ottawa, OHL) and Mitch Love (Saskatoon, WHL).
Hunter’s brother, Mark, was named to Team Canada’s Program of Excellence group in March, taking over the under-20 program and Canada’s National Junior Team. Just like in OHL London, the two will team up together with Team Canada.
“We are excited about the two coaching staffs that have been assembled for Canada’s National Junior Team and Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, both of which include a combination of Canadian Hockey League, National Hockey League and international coaching experience,” Shawn Bullock, director of the men’s national teams for Hockey Canada, said in a release. “We know all six coaches will represent our country with a tremendous amount of pride as they look to bring home gold medals at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship and 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.”
Hunter’s management career in junior hockey began during the 2000-01 season with the London Knights alongside his brother Mark. The next year, Dale stepped in as head coach of the Knights, replacing Lindsay Hofford midseason. Since then, Hunter has been arguably one of the most successful coaches in junior hockey, leading London to five Memorial Cup appearances and winning the title twice (2005 and 2016). Hunter has also been OHL coach of the year three times (2004, 2005, and 2010) and was named CHL coach of the year in 2004.
Under Hunter’s tutelage in London, nearly two dozen Knights players have been drafted in the first round of the NHL draft, including several of the league’s current superstars.
According to NHL.com, the list includes:
Matthew Tkachuk (No. 6, 2016, Calgary Flames)
Mitch Marner (No. 4, 2015, Toronto)
Bo Horvat (No. 9, 2013, Vancouver Canucks)
Max Domi (No. 12, 2013, Arizona Coyotes)
Olli Maatta (No. 22, 2012, Pittsburgh Penguins)
John Tavares (No. 1, 2009, New York Islanders)
Nazem Kadri (No. 7, 2009, Toronto)
Patrick Kane (No. 1, 2007, Chicago Blackhawks)
Sam Gagner (No. 6, 2007, Edmonton Oilers)
Corey Perry (No. 28, 2003 Anaheim Ducks)
Rick Nash (No. 1, 2002, Columbus Blue Jackets).
“He’s very hard on his top players to make you better and prepare you for pro hockey and what the challenges are at the next level,” John Tavares said to NHL.com’s Mike Zeisberger. “It creates a lot of growth at a crucial time when you are approaching the next step to pro hockey. For me, he was really great at challenging me and giving me the opportunity to have success and become a better player.”
Hunter stepped away from the London Knights briefly during the 2011-12 campaign, serving as an NHL head coach for the first time with the Washington Capitals and replacing Bruce Boudreau at midseason. The 2011-12 Capitals beat the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs but flamed out in seven games to the New York Rangers. During his time leading his former team, Hunter guided the Caps to a 30-23-7 record and finished second in the Southeast Division. While the team evened out defensively after a bad stretch in the fall, the Capitals’ underlying play suffered under Hunter, taking a step back after Boudreau was dismissed. Hunter returned to London the next season.
Hunter played 19 seasons in the NHL with Quebec, Washington, and Colorado. His No. 32 was retired by Washington.
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