Fantasy Impact: The Washington Capitals have fired their head coach Bruce Boudreau and have replaced him with former Capital Dale Hunter, who had been coach of OHL's London Knights.
Boudreau's style: Boudreau was a player's coach who preached a run-and-gun style. That is, up until two years ago. Last season he transformed into a coach who preached defense. The transition was a knee-jerk reaction to getting beat by a hot goaltender (Jaroslav Halak) and frankly I think that his run-and-gun style would have worked had he stuck with it longer. The defensive system had its ups and downs, but they were beaten soundly by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the postseason last spring. This brought on yet another coaching style change - one that stressed 'responsibility' and 'accountability'. It turned out to be too much change in too short a timeframe. The players stopped playing for him.
Hunter's style: Hunter was a gritty player and has the same coaching philosophy. As coach of the London Knights, he has spent much of the past 10 years managing the egos of some of the best players that the OHL has seen, including John Tavares, Patrick Kane, Sergei Kostitsyn, Sam Gagner, Nazem Kadri and Corey Perry. It fits Washington's needs.
The impact on key players
Alex Ovechkin - The desire, the fire will be back. Sorry folks, you "buy-low" window on this generational superstar has now closed. Should have made your move last week instead of twiddling your thumbs and humming and hawwing about whether he would be worth the asking price. He would have been.
Alexander Semin - Another player who will be happy with this move. Hunter won't put up with any laziness, so if the results aren't there early then Semin won't be sent to the press box - he'll just be traded. Either way, he's helping your fantasy squad.
Mike Green, John Carlson, Dennis Wideman - The domino effect starts here. If Ovechkin goes from a 70-point player to a 110-point player, the d-men on the PP benefit. Don't forget - Hunter coached Carlson in London, so if it came down to Wideman vs. Carlson for PP ice time, Carlson would win.
Nicklas Backstrom - Yes, there is room for more. Yes, you have to think that the numbers will reach new heights if he's playing with a superstar again.
Troy Brouwer/Mike Knuble - I really like ONE of these two players. Which one? Wish my crystal ball was working, but it's in the shop. But one of these two will win the Ovechkin-linemate lottery. Mark it!
Brooks Laich - Under the defensive system, he had become a steady 45-point player instead of a steady 60-point player. Now he is back to 60.
Marcus Johansson - A great two-way player who will get plenty of chances, but Hunter may need to make an example of somebody and I think it could be MJ. If so, he may eventually see some time in the minors - it would all depend on...
Mathieu Perreault - Hunter will really like this guy's go-go-go play. If Perreault brings his game, which is by no means a certainty, just 'likely', then Hunter will reward him. He has a real chance of stealing Johansson's spot on the ladder - for this year, not long-term.
Goaltending - I get the feeling we're in for a lot of 5-4 wins. So expect improved W's but inflated GAA. It's not that Hunter preaches run and gun. He doesn't. But the goals are going to come simply from the 'new and improved' Ovechkin. And I find that when teams score a lot, the other team opens up more and they score a lot too.