When Dale Hunter stepped away as coach of the Capitals just two days after leading them to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, several players stressed the importance of hiring a coach who would continue what Hunter started.
A coach who would hold them accountable and treat each player with equal importance. A coach who would emphasize the hard-nosed, shot-blocking style that identified them during their playoff run.
A coach who understands what Hunter was trying to accomplish and is willing to follow it through.
A coach like former Capitals enforcer and current Philadelphia Flyers assistant Craig Berube?
Any time you get an opportunity to be a head coach, youre interested, Berube told CSNWashington.com on Tuesday. My situation is good here. No one has contacted me about it. Well see what happens.
Berube, 46, and Hunter, 51, played together with the Capitals from 1993-99 and remain good friends. Berube said the two talked often during the season and he was impressed with the progress Hunter made in his six months behind the Capitals bench.
It was tough for him, Berube said. It took time for him to get them to play the way he wanted, but the results came out at the end.
Berube said coaching the Capitals is something Hunter truly wanted to do, but said he was not surprised to see him return to London, Ontario, where his family operates a successful farming business and junior hockey team.
Like Hunter, Berube turned to coaching after a long career as a fierce competitor. He amassed 3,149 penalty minutes, seventh on the all-time list, in 1,054 NHL games during his 16-year career. After retiring as a player in 2003-04, he began his coaching career as an assistant with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms.
Berube was elevated to head coach of the Phantoms in 2006, but when Ken Hitchcock was fired as the Flyers head coach early that season, Berube stepped in as a new assistant coach of the Flyers. The following season Berube again was named head coach of the Phantoms and compiled a 46-27-7 record in his only full season behind the bench.
Berube returned to the Flyers as an assistant coach in 2008 and has spent the past three seasons under head coach Peter Laviolette.
Berube is believed to have one more year remaining on his contract with the Flyers. He played two seasons under Capitals general manager George McPhee from 1997-99, but said he has not spoken with the McPhee and is unaware of the Capitals timeline on hiring a coach.