Friedman: Leafs might pursue Dale Hunter this summer

It’s been a tough week for Nazem Kadri, and it’s no surprise that after Brendan Shanahan essentially called him out publicly, people would start to question how the Leafs have him fitting into their long term plans. 

But Kadri is still just a part of an organization up to its neck in uncertainty, and a decision on his future is one of many the team has to make in the next few months. One of the others is, even with Kadri (or whoever) in the fold long term, who is going to coach these guys?

If you assume the Leafs will move on from Peter Horachek as the head coach, there exists a really interesting stable of guys who could be behind the bench next season. You’ve always got the Babcock rumors floating about, and Dan Bylsma is still looking for work. Those are two of the biggest names out there, but in Elliotte Friedman’s weekly 30 Thoughts, he threw around some more options this morning, and even tied them into this Kadri story.

One exec made an interesting point about Kadri. Three coaches who’ve had short-term success with him are available: Peter DeBoer and Dale Hunter (OHL) and Dallas Eakins (AHL). I’ve written before about my belief that Toronto will talk with Hunter after the season, but it would surprise people who know him much better than I do if he took the job.

Friedman also elaborated on what the Leafs face with Kadri and how they proceed with or without him, and indicated that teams around the league don’t see his value dropping as a result of this past week. 

But back to the coaches. 

As mentioned above, Hunter is sort of a strange case because no one knows if he wants to coach in the NHL again after bolting from the Caps to return to London a couple seasons ago. However, with his brother Mark now in upper management with the Leafs, who knows? Things may have changed.

It’s tough to form much of an opinion on Hunter. His track record in the junior ranks is obscenely good, but he’s only coached sixty NHL games and is usually associated with ruining Alexander Ovechkin for a year and generally just being a destroyer of offence and all things good. In terms of just wins and losses, he coached the Capitals to a 30-23-7 record in 2011-12 and ended the season with a second-round loss to the Rangers.

Would this be a good move for the Leafs? I’m generally getting on board with the organization going super Ontario-heavy and plucking as many solid resources from their own back yard as possible and making the most of the OHL. While this move would sort of fall into that whole plan, it’s tough to say how Hunter might fit until we see what kind of youth the Leafs bring in to shape up this rebuild. 

  • This wouldn’t be good news for Kessel as Hunter left the NHL because he didn’t like dealing with the star players like Ovi. And lets not forget Hunter hates players that aren’t strong defensively and under him Ovi only was playing around 12 minutes total most nights. It’ll be great for guys like Komarov because they’ll get 1st line ice time.

  • CMpuck

    That makes sense, Ontario born and good with the youth.

    Best part is hearing Babcock’s price drop as the Leafs pull out, hated that he was using Toronto as leverage when he wouldn’t sign here anyway.

    • CMpuck

      I’m not sure I follow you on this. Toronto, a team he doesn’t coach, is doing poorly and the team he does coach is in a playoff spot – and this drops Babcock’s value? and the amount of money Toronto would/could pay him?

      Toronto can still offer more money than any team in the league for his services and if anything, the fact Toronto is doing so poorly WITHOUT him would only increase his value/asking price from MLSE and in turn any other team.