Saying it was time to move on, longtime Washington Capitals center Dale Hunter announced his retirement Wednesday and said he would take a front office position with the team.
Hunter played 19 years in the NHL, 12 with Washington before being traded to Colorado late last season. He'll turn 39 on Saturday, and Hunter said it takes him much longer physically to do things than in years past.
"It's a tough thing to retire, but the body's not as good as it used to be," Hunter said. "I'd like to thank my teammates through the years. They've always been behind me 100 percent."
Hunter had long been one of the team's leaders and most popular players. He came to the team from the then-Quebec Nordiques as a part of a five-player trade in June, 1987. Hunter was named captain at the start of the 1994-95 season and kept that job until the Colorado trade.
"As a manager, Dale was a manager's dream," Washington general manager George McPhee said. "He was ... talented, smart, well-conditioned, committed and ... mean, mean, mean."
New owner Ted Leonsis said Hunter was everything that was good for the Capitals.
"Dale Hunter is representative of everything we want the Capitals to be and aspire to in the future," Leonsis said. "The fans and people of this city love Dale Hunter."
Hunter finished with 323 goals and 697 assists for 1,020 points and 3,565 penalty minutes in 1,407 games in his career. He had 181 goals and 375 assists for 556 points in 872 Washington games. Hunter also racked up 2,003 penalty minutes. He holds a number of team records, and also leads the Capitals in most playoff categories.
Hunter will now become the team's player development instructor. His main responsibilities will have to do with assisting the development of the franchise's prospects in the United States, Canada and Europe.
"We are delighted and very flattered that this man took the job," McPhee said. "We have just made our organization stronger."
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