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Hunter the villain back in town

HunterDale Hunter was one of the most reviled opponents in Sabres history, a complete nuisance on the ice who got under the skin of players and fans alike during his days with the Quebec Nordiques in the 1980s and again for the Washington Capitals as they beat the Sabres in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals (left).

Hunter is back in town tonight in his 12th game as the head coach of the Caps. He's 5-5-1 since taking over for Bruce Boudreau. And he got a chuckle when I asked him what's he like to return to a place where he was Public Enemy No. 1 for a long time.

Hunter coach"That's a long time ago," Hunter said. "You come here, you know you're going to play hard and stuff happens out there. ... What you remember is the fans and there were always great battles in the playoffs and stuff. It's a hockey town."

Hunter may be a bit of a lame duck as the Washington Post reported last week his contract is only through the end of the season so the Caps might be searching again but for now, at least, he's trying to put more of a defensive style into the once free-wheeling Caps.

"Bruce was an offensive guy who really wanted to outscore teams and really cared about goals and Dale can care less," said veteran Mike Knuble. "If you play a stingy defensive game and win 1-0 or 2-1, he's comfortable playing in those games. He's conitioning to play calm in those situations and not get antsy. If the game is going to finish 1-0, hopefully we've got the one."

---Mike Harrington

Getty Images photos: Hunter roughs up Brian Holzinger during the 1998 Caps-Sabres series and behind the Caps bench last  week.


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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 |