WASHINGTON – It is ironic that a coach nicknamed Gabby for being talkative was no longer being heard.
With six losses in eight games the Washington Capitals had clearly tuned out Bruce Boudreau and he was fired on Monday. The only thing that eases some of the sting over Boudreau’s ouster is that his replacement is Dale Hunter.
Hunter is one of only four Capitals’ players to have his number retired, and for so many seasons he was truly the heart and soul of the team. As a player Hunter never took a shift off and helped the Capitals to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1998.
The Capitals need a push from Hunter, but it should not have come to this. This is a Capitals team that suffered another early playoff exit last spring and talked of the need to be more accountable.
Boudreau tried to hold the team accountable and was not afraid to bench stars including Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Unfortunately, accountability for the Capitals had an expiration date. After a 7-0 start to the season, the Caps had been reduced to lifeless passengers in Saturday’s 5-1 loss to Buffalo.
It’s impossible not to feel bad for Boudreau. He was likeable and passed the “beer test”; a guy you would love to have a beer and a sandwich with. Being the Capitals head coach was Boudreau’s dream job after paying his dues coaching in the minors for over a decade.
It should not have come to this and now the Capitals’ players have to look at themselves in the mirror. In their reflection the players will see Hunter standing behind them and if that doesn’t get this team moving forward then this team has bigger issues.