Knights' Night: As Knights keep rolling, Dale Hunter reaches 700th OHL win
Credit: ANDREW STEPHENSON OF SHAKE MEDIA AND THE LONDON KNIGHTS
The London Knights are quite the team and can thank their head coach Dale Hunter, who recently reached his 700th Ontario Hockey League (OHL) win on Dec. 2.
He’s just two years removed from a National Hockey League (NHL) career that spanned two decades and one of only 87 players in the history of the game to score over 1,000 points.
Fast forward to December 2017. After 15 seasons behind the London Knights bench, Hunter earned his 700th win in a 3-2 overtime victory against the North Bay Battalion on Dec. 2.
Hunter has created a culture of winning in London that is scarce seen anywhere else in the Canadian Hockey League.
He’s led the Knights to four J. Ross Robertson Cups and two Memorial Cups, and in the process, solidified himself as one of the most respected coaches in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
He’s just the 3rd coach in OHL history to reach the milestone, behind only Bert Templeton and Brian Kilrea.
The Knights have made the playoffs every year since Hunter took over behind the bench; that’s an astounding 16-straight seasons.
Year after year, the expectations for the Knights are nothing less than a championship.
“You have to be lucky to be involved in sport this long. All my life I have been involved in hockey, both playing and coaching and you enjoy coming to the rink when you have a great job like that,” he said on a Dec. 3 article on the London Knights website.
Hunter brought that positive mindset to everyone he coached in London.
It’s easy to tell the impact he’s had on his players if you factor in the success they’ve had at the world’s highest level.
He’s taught some of the NHL’s elite, including Patrick Kane, Corey Perry, Rick Nash and John Tavares.
Two of those players are Stanley Cup Champions.
He’s also coached what should be the next generation of great NHL talent: Mitch Marner, Olli Maatta and Max Domi are just a few names that come to mind.
With all the success Hunter has had at the Ontario Hockey League level, it wouldn’t be crazy to think he could reach 1,000 one day.
So, how did he get his latest win? When he began coaching, threeon-three overtime didn’t exist. But that’s how he reached number 700.
It was a Robert Thomas goal that sealed it in the extra frame.
Thomas also picked up two helpers in the game, giving him 40 points on the season in just 24 games.
That’s good enough for 6th place in OHL scoring; he’s just four points out of second.
London kept up their goal scoring prowess, potting 11 in three games last week.
They beat Guelph 5-1, fell to the Oshawa Generals 5-3 a few nights later, before beating the North Bay Battalion to give Hunter his 700th on Dec. 2.
Hunter has no plans to stop coaching anytime soon, and there are probably still a few OHL championships in his future.
The way the London Knights have played lately, it wouldn’t be crazy to think they could compete for one this year.
But without Hunter, things might have played out a lot differently over the past 15 years.
The London Knights are as much a part of the city as the roads and buildings are. This team is an integral part of the city’s identity. Much of that can be attributed to Hunter.
He taught his players how to compete, how to win and how to play the right way.
But more importantly, he turned the Forest City into the gold standard for junior hockey.
Behind the scenes of the amazing ice acrobatic show, Crystal
Cirque du Soleil's Crystal made its way to London for the first time and the Interrobang got a behind the scenes look of the production that was performed at Budweiser Gardens this past weekend. Read more
Spring street hockey tournament comes back to downtown London
Continuing a 15-year tradition, GOT GAME Sports will be reviving the annual street hockey tournament here in London after the original organizers announced at the beginning of this year that the tournament would not be running in 2018. Read more
Knights' Night: Knights on verge of being eliminated
Think about the best possible start the London Knights could have had in the 2017-18 post-season. Well, the exact opposite happened. Read more
Knights' Night: No home ice this year for Knights, who travel to Owen Sound for first round
It wasn't the end to the regular season the London Knights were hoping for. Read more