It is great to see Dale Hunter back with the Washington Capitals, although it is too bad that it came at the expense of Bruce Boudreau, who was fired on Monday. Hunter was D.C.'s version of Bill Laimbeer: a player you loved if he was on your team and hated if he wasn't. If you ask a longtime New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins or Philadelphia Flyers fans, they are likely to say they hated Dale Hunter. That is exactly what Capitals fans love about him.
Hunter was a skilled player who was not afraid to get under opponents' skin and sometimes know to give a cheap shot or two. He was a huge success in the OHL for 11 years, where he had the highest winning percentage of any coach in history.
This is Hunter's dream job (keep your Randy Edsall comments to yourself).He had opportunities to coach in the NHL, but wanted the Capitals' job. So the guy who was part of some of the franchise's biggest heartaches and heartbreaks back in the day is in town to get the current group past theirs. Sounds like the makings of a Disney Movie.
Meanwhile, I am sad to see Boudreau go, and yes, I think it was probably time for a change. Unfortunately in pro sports, coaches are hired to be fired. Boudreau's message was falling on deaf ears. That doesn't mean his time was not a helluva lot of fun. I still have the HBO 24/7 episode with his profanity-laced tirade on his team on my DVR. I watch it on days I need to motivate myself.
Good luck to Gabby, as he gets his carpets cleaned by Hadeed on final time before riding off in the sunset in his Mercedes if he gets to keep it. In this week's post-Thanksgiving edition of Chain Reactions, we are full of mixed emotions with the Capitals and Washington Redskins, and could it be a one and done for Edsall?
Caps Stars on Notice Now
So how did we get here? How did the Capitals go from a franchise-best 7-0 start to firing their coach? Is it as simple as blaming two of the teams biggest stars, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin?
We are about to find out. There is a new voice in the room, a voice that is highly respected in the organization. We do know this much: the Capitals have way too much talent to be struggling at just 12-10 on the season.
One of the biggest questions before Boudreau was fired was whether or not there was a rift between he and Alex Ovechkin. Here is what Boudreau told ESPN.
"It's so far from the truth," Boudreau said. "We got along, I think, famously."
Perhaps that quote is telling. Could they have been too chummy? When the coach made an example of him, did the star shut it down? That's what ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose seems to think.
"Bruce lost Alex the night he pulled him and didn't play in the last minute. From that moment on, you look at Alex's numbers and the numbers of the team, they were terrible. I really think that was a turning point in their relationship."
"I really think Bruce and Alex had a great relationship," Melrose continued. "Things started changing when the philosophy changed. It's hard for an offensive player who loves to score goals and stuff to give up some goals to win. And then, when you don't win, the player says, 'See? We should have done it the way I always liked to play.' It's a real tough situation."
Whether you agree with Melrose's assessment or not, the spotlight on the Capitals is clearly on players now. It is time to put up or shut up. If they don't respond, the next move might be more painful for the players.
Redskins Lose Franchise QB by Winning?
I have covered it in this space before. Until the Redskins get a real quarterback, they are screwed. So I totally understand the mixed feelings many Redskins faithful have after a meaningless win in Week 12.
Did the Redskins lose out on a chance to draft USC's Matt Barkley? Not so fast my friend, as their foul mouthed guy on ESPN says. First off, let me say I'm not totally sold Barkley is going pro. He LOVES USC and they will be loaded next year. He can come back and play like he did this year and he would be the No. 1 overall pick. Spare me the "he could get hurt scenario." Andrew Luck did it just fine this year and Sam Bradford did get hurt and still was the No. 1 overall pick. So save the risk talk for someone else.
We all know that the Colts have all but locked up Luck with the first pick. I mean they are going all in playing Dan Orlovsky, who quarterbacked the Lions in ten games of their historic 0-16 season in 2008. The draft starts getting interesting after the Colts' pick.
In the current draft order, the next four teams all have young quarterbacks in place, St. Louis, Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Carolina, Miami is at six right in front of the Redskins. The Dolphins need a quarterback too.
There is no law against the Redskins moving up in front of Miami. If Barkley goes in the draft someone will move up and take him at two. If they don't, Robert Griffin III out of Baylor is not a bad parting gift.
For the record, there is still five weeks of the season to be played, and the Redskins have a real challenging schedule. So cheer up Redskins fans. There are plenty of opportunities for the team to lose games and move up the draft board.
Could Terps Be a One and Done for Edsall?
Could it be a one and done deal for Terps coach Randy Edsall? I know what you are thinking, Terps fans. "Please be true!" Edsall was the defensive backs coach under Tom Coughlin in Jacksonville with the Jaguars from 1994-1997, so his name was floated via twitter by a longtime NFL Scout and now NFL information man in the Bay Area's Dave Razzano.
@DaveRazzano Dave Razzano
Look for Maryland coach Randy Edsall to get strong consideration in Jcksonville
A couple thoughts. If you abbreviate Jacksonville on twitter, why not go with Jax or Jags? More seriously, this is too good to be true for Terps fans. The folks in North Florida love their college football and the Jaguars need a move that will excite the fan base. Hiring a guy after a 2-10 season at Maryland isn't that. I am also pretty sure the Jaguars, once they start doing their research, will get the film from the NC State game.
And there is the other part of it: the coach is still good with his "dream job"
"The only job that I am worried about, and the job that I have got all my heart and soul and attention on, is Maryland," Randy Edsall told The Post's Jason Reid on Tuesday. "We are going to do the things necessary to make sure that this program goes where we want it to go.
I did time in Jacksonville as a young sports radio host at the same time Edsall was with the Jaguars, and fans did not think much of the team's defense in those days. Heck if you are going to get nostalgic with a Tom Coughlin hire, why not bring back Coughlin once the Giants fire him? Or, hire the best available former Gator that will make the fans happy?
Anyway, the long and the short of it is the Terps program, for better or for worse, (I got worse right now) is under Edsall's control.