On Monday morning, Alex Ovechkin woke up and had 15 missed calls on his phone. Teammate John Carlson woke up with texts waiting on his phone from friends back in London, Ontario. They were both being bombarded for the same reason. Dale Hunter was now their coach. The big difference is that Carlson knows exactly what to expect from Hunter. Ovechkin is about to find out.
Carlson played for Hunter in London during the 2008-09 season and credits him for helping speed up his transition from a first-round draft pick to an NHL regular.
"I owe him a lot," Carlson said during a Monday evening phone conversation. "He was a great teacher and mentor to me."
Along with Nazem Kadri and Michael Del Zotto, Carlson was one of the best players on that team. He was a defenseman who put up 76 points in 59 games and another 22 points in 14 playoff games. He got a sense of just how Hunter treats his star players, how Hunter will treat Ovechkin and Alexander Semin and the other Capitals stars he needs performing at a higher level than they did at the end of the Bruce Boudreau era.
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