Caps' Hunter was always on prowl for pranks

November 30, 2011|The Washington Post

When new Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter was a player, it was virtually mandatory to mention his propensity for practical jokes.

What sorts of things?

Well, he would substitute steak sauce for chocolate syrup during team meals and smear "gooey substances on telephone earpieces," according to the Globe and Mail.

He would nail teammates' gloves to lockers and shoes to the ground, and put Vaseline in combs and brushes before team pictures, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

He once stole the hubcaps off Ed Kastelic's car, according to Clint Malarchuk, and would fill shoes and pants pockets with shaving cream, according to John Druce. Hunter told reporters he would prank broadcasters by refusing to provide anything but "yes" or "no" answers for up to three minutes.

In 1990, The Post mentioned a litany of Caps practical jokes, including "spreading gobs of Vaseline in a player's helmet or in his hairbrush," partially sawing a teammate's stick "so when he takes a slap shot, the stick snaps and he falls on his face," stealing shoes or shaving creaming the head of sleeping teammates, and "taping clear fishing line to a $1 bill and leaving the bait on the floor of an airport terminal."

And any such list of pranks would always lead to Hunter as a prime instigator.

"I'll just say this: Don't leave your car keys around him," Olie Kolzig once told The Post. "He'll put some fish remains under your seat. You won't find them for a few days, but that smell will be there for quite a while."

"One time I put my sock on," Malarchuk told the paper, "and there's a cockroach in there. He put a cockroach in my sock."

Hunter would receive, too. When he returned from his Pierre Turgeon suspension, in 1993, The Washington Times reported that "he found the laces on his skates cut and Vaseline liberally applied to his helmet and the masking tape on his skate blades."

Hunter's most famous stunt probably came after Garry Galley dumped water over his head. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel told the rest of the story:

A week later, then-Washington coach Bryan Murray left the Capitals' practice rink during a snowstorm. As he was driving, he looked over to the car next to him and did a double take.

"There was Garry driving with a hockey sock over his head in the middle of a blizzard," Murray said. "Dale had removed the doors from his Jeep. That's the type of guy he was off the ice. A practical joker and one heck of a leader."

But if that story was the most-told, The Washington Times' Dave Fay had an even better one. When the Caps retired Hunter's sweater in 2000, Hunter sneaked into the dressing room during the subsequent game.

"When the players went to get dressed after the game, every one of them was missing one sock," Fay wrote. "When the players held a gathering for their former captain the next day, Hunter showed up holding a bag with 17 unmatched socks."

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