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Loss to Sabres is last straw as Caps whack Boudreau, hire Dale Hunter

Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau looked beaten here Saturday morning and sounded befuddled Saturday night when he said of his struggling team, "It's got to come from within I've got to believe. Because if I've got to teach them how to be tough, then I don't know quite how to do that."

The coach-killing Caps completely went through the motions during their 5-1 loss to the injury-riddled Sabres and they apparently got their wish Monday morning: Boudreau was fired and replaced by London Knights coach and longtime Sabres antagonist Dale Hunter.

Hunter, 51, is one of four Caps to have his number retired by the team and appeared in 872 games with them from 1987-1999, including the 1998 Stanley Cup final team that beat the Sabres in the Eastern Conference finals. Hunter, of course, is best remembered in Buffalo as the chief pest of the old Quebec Nordiques during those classic 1980s battles in the regular season and playoffs.

Since starting the season 7-0, the Capitals are just 5-9-1. Alexander Ovechkin is a shell of his former self and has openly battled with Boudreau over ice time. Alexander Semin has been a healthy scratch. The Caps lack any semblance of passion and, of course, have the mental issues involved with two straight early playoff flameouts when a lot of people thought they were the best team in the East.

Hunter takes over tomorrow night against St. Louis, which has been surging the last two weeks since hiring Ken HItchcock. Mark Hunter, Dale's younger brother and a former NHLer himself, will take over in London.

As for Boudreau? He just wore out his welcome in DC but he'll certainly get another job at some point. And if he doesn't, he'll always be famous for that great F-bomb rant in the dressing room last year on HBO's 24/7.

Next coach on the hot seat? It's still pretty warm for Paul Maurice in Carolina but I'm betting Randy Carlyle is in his final days in Anaheim, where the Ducks lost their seventh straight last night and are quickly falling out of the Western Conference race. They are 14th and have won once in their last 14 games. Ouch.

10:15 a.m. update: Two Southeast Division coaches down today as the Hurricanes just fired Maurice and will replace him with former NHL player and assistant coach Kirk Muller, who had been the head man with Milwaukee of the AHL. If I'm Carlyle, I stay away from the phone today.

10:20 a.m. update: Caps owner Ted Leonsis has blogged a thank-you to Boudreau.

---Mike Harrington


NHL | Sabres
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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington |

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz |