Hunter not chasing NHL job

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

Dale Hunter is interested in coaching in the National Hockey League.

Just not immediately.

The coach and co-owner of the London Knights has seen his name surface on several occasions when openings come up behind the bench of NHL teams.

Hunter's name comes up most often when the discussion centres around the Washington Capitals, a team he played with for 12 seasons. He retains connections and friendships within the Caps.

Washington recently fired coach Glen Hanlon and replaced him with Bruce Boudreau on an interim basis. No one is quite sure what's going to happen when the season is over.

Reports continue to circulate that if George McPhee remains as the general manager of the Capitals, he may come after Hunter to be the new coach.

It's a natural connection. Since Hunter took over as Knights head coach in November 2001, he's won a Memorial Cup, an OHL championship, four straight regular-season titles, an OHL coach-of-the-year award and built a record of 284 wins and 110 losses.

Hunter was also mentioned as a possible coach of the Ottawa Senators when they were looking this summer. Hunter has been mentioned a lot as a possible coach.

But Hunter is adamant when asked about heading to an NHL job.

"I'm coaching here and I'm happy coaching here," Hunter said.

Yes, he has had conversations with teams about coaching in the NHL but they were just conversations, as in "would you ever be interested in coaching in the NHL?" sort of like saying "so what do you want to do with the rest of your life?"

"It wasn't an offer to coach," Hunter said.

Hunter is a private guy. He doesn't tell many people what he's thinking or doing. He doesn't do a lot of media work, letting his assistants handle it.

This leads to all sorts of speculation when it comes to a potential move to the NHL. Hunter won't go until son Tucker, who plays for the Knights, is done playing junior hockey. He won't go because while he loves to coach, he isn't fond of all the other public stuff a coach has to do like dealing with a shark-like media.

He won't go because in London, he's his own boss. He controls his own destiny and the destiny of his hockey club which has become a big business.

How much of that plays into his thinking no one really knows. He did say he doesn't mind dealing with the media, that he's dealt with the media for many years in the NHL and that the reason he lets his coaches do most of the media stuff is because "we're not just developing players, we're developing coaches as well."

However, the assumption that he won't go is wrong.

"I'd like to try coaching in the NHL," Hunter said. "But right now I'm coaching here. Washington has a coach. Boudreau is doing a good job.

"I played a lot of years in the NHL. It's different because here, you have all sorts of young players. Up there you have a mixture of young players and old players. I was an old player so I know what to expect."

He was also a young player and has had almost seven years of handling young players. He knows what to expect from both ends.

There's no question Hunter wants to go eventually. When remains the question. Hunter said as far as coaching goes, he believes "he's ready to coach." The "when" depends on Hunter's comfort level.

"You want to go into a situation you like, with people you can work with," he said.

He says he's not actively looking but he can't prevent the rumours or prevent anyone from asking whether he has any interest.

"I always give the same answer," Hunter said. "Right now, I'm happy where I am, but in the future, maybe."


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