VANCOUVER – Tim Hunter raised the Stanley Cup and twice headed the NHL in penalty minutes before he got a little from the coach's mistake at the end of his career.
He said that he understood that he wanted to be a coach, playing with Pat Quinn in Vancouver Canucks from 1992 to 1996.
It is entirely appropriate that it was here, in the shadow of the statue of the Great Irishman inside the building on Pat Quinn Way, that Hunter earned his moment to become the head coach of the Canadian team at the World Junior Championships.
Hunter certainly applied a few lessons learned from the Hall of Fame coach. He remembered his favorite story on Friday, when Quinn set off for a tirade during the intermission in Winnipeg.
He said that Quinn walked into the locker room and swung the five-liter Gatorade bucket as if it were a cup across the table.
"We are like," Oooooooh! "Said Hunter.
Quinn then took aim at his next target.
“They had these big 50-gallon drums, steel drums like garbage cans, and I look at him, and he loads this jar, and she doesn’t move,” said Hunter. "Then he left the room, and I said," Wow! ". I went over and moved the jar, and it is half filled with cement. ”
“You have to break their chains from time to time,” said Hunter. "But yes, I'm going to make sure that I am not kicking cans of cement."
Hunter, now 58, has played second fiddle for most of the past two decades. After a career in the NHL with 815 games, he followed Ron Wilson as an assistant coach in the league for more than 1,100 games with stops in Washington, San Jose and Toronto, before rejoining the capitals in the short season under Adam Oates.
Even in the Junior World Championships, Hunter was an assistant to Dominique Ducharme in the last two tournaments, before Ducharm was hired as an assistant this year in the Montreal Canadiens.
Only in 2014, at the age of 54, Hunter finally became the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warl warriors from WHL. This caused him some regret.
"I look back at my coaching career, and I probably should have gone and become head coach much earlier, and I continued to work with Ron," said Hunter. "I enjoyed working for Ron and 14 years of age being an assistant coach, [but] I should have been the head coach much earlier. ”
This is Hunter’s moment on the big stage, his chance to impress a potential candidate for coaching in the NHL.
Mike Babcock, Claude Julien, Mike Keenan, Dave King, Brent Sutter and Craig Hartsburg all coached Canada at the World Junior Championships before moving on to the NHL.
Training in the NHL is increasingly becoming the game of a young man, but Hunter has shown that he has evolved. Thanks to the maple leaves, Wilson and Hunter have gained a reputation that sometimes caused a scornful attitude towards the players.
The current generation of NHL players, and even more so the millennia that Hunter now leads, need to listen more. They want to be involved and involved in the process, they did not say what to do.
The hunter seems to have recognized it.
“Last night after the game, I wanted to say my points, then I went around the room and asked each player to tell us about their feelings about how we played so far and how they played in the game,” said Hunter on Friday. “It was great because a lot of guys said the same thing, they had really good comments. They all know where we are going, they all know where we need to improve. It was a great conversation. When you have a family, guys can take responsibility and test their ego at the door. They were honest and frank about things we have to work on. ”
Make no mistake, the Hunter still carries the stick – and he is not afraid to use it. He set fire to 17-year-old Alexis Lavreniera, the expected No. 1 pick in the NHL draft of 2020, for his game against Switzerland on Thursday evening.
“He skated like it was free skating, there were a lot of circles in his game,” said Hunter about LaFrenier. “We talked with him about it, showed him a video and explained to him. I told him: “At the beginning of the game you are going to show me whether you understand it or not. If you do not, we will limit your time on the ice. ”
Now, Hunter will need to re-engage young, high-profile players such as Lafrenier and Joey Veleno to see if he can get the most out of them for Canada. They were chosen for a reason. They can play, and others – no.
Indeed, the rest of the tournament will be about the buttons that Hunter presses and how his team responds. He pumped them before the tournament, pumped the brakes after the victory over Denmark 14: 0, and now it will be necessary to pump tires in special teams.
For the third time in the last nine tournaments – with 47 games – the Canadian team has outstripped its rival in special teams.
Not only the whole nation watches every turn of the Hunter, but also the NHL. He may never get the best shot.
But for now, Hunter has said that gold is his only goal.
“It means a lot. It’s a great honor and pride for me that I’m training this team,” said Hunter. I believe in myself and it is a great honor for me to be part of hockey Canada. ”
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli