Monday was breakdown day at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the last day for the Washington Capitals to gather as a team before heading their separate ways for the summer. Some players, like Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Nicklas Backstrom, will head to Finland and Sweden for the elimination rounds of the 2012 IIHF World Championships; while others will head to their hometowns for some rest and recreation.
But banal breakdown day was overtaken by real events Monday, when the Capitals announced that Dale Hunter would be stepping down from his duties as head coach. The reaction of various players is below.
#Caps Chimera "it's disappointing" on Hunter not coming back— Sky Kerstein (@SkyKerstein) May 14, 2012
#Caps Backstrom on Hunter not returning "It kind of sucks"— Sky Kerstein (@SkyKerstein) May 14, 2012
Nicklas Backstrom on Hunter stepping down: "I really wanted to see him back next year but unfortunately he’s not. It’s not good." #Caps— Katie Carrera (@kcarrera) May 14, 2012
#Caps Hendricks on Hunter "He gave me that confidence"— Sky Kerstein (@SkyKerstein) May 14, 2012
And then there's Alexander Ovechkin, whose words will no doubt be the subject of much parsing.
"Family is always in the first position. It's his decision," Alex Ovechkin said. "It's his decision so we have to live with it."
Ovechkin admitted that personally it was "pretty hard" for him to adjust to Hunter's defensive system early on. but that he tried to shelve his expectations and do what was best for the team, even if that included playing less than 15 minutes in some playoff games.
"It doesn't matter if I like it or not, because he's my coach and I have to listen," Ovechkin said. "How he said, you have to be a plumber. So I was a plumber."
The Washington Capitals: never boring, at least not for long.