Now that the first phase before blowing up the team has been done, it's time to take a look at how things will be turned around. It's always been about the how with this team--that's the one constant. Aside from the coach and that has finally been changed.
So with that said, how should the Caps play it from here on out? Return to "run and gun"? Nope, Coach Hunter has already said that's out. Or is it? Maybe the first task is to build a bridge to the Captain, not to burn it. Hunts has been there himself so he knows the Captain has to be on the coach's side. I'm not saying turn Ovi totally loose, just let him take chances within reason. Give him a reason to want to play, to want to adhere to the system, whatever it may be. Give him the minutes, but make sure they're quality minutes.
If this team has the skill then it merely lacks the will. If only it were that easy to nail down. We Caps fans know it's not. But if Hunter can get Ovechkin to buy in, so will the rest of the team. That much is easy to figure out. Ovechkin has said as much that he's not as interested in personal achievements so either he's lying or there is/was some other unseen issue that has made him not want to play hard. I'm no psychologist so I'm not going to even try figuring that one out. But if he doesn't see a reason to give it his absolute best why should the rest of the team?
Perhaps the Gretzky approach might help as a different method. It's not what you think. Early in his career Wayne Gretzky had a fear of flying. Playing most of career in the Western time zones he obviously learned to deal with it. But how you ask? By learning about how the whole thing worked. On long flights he would sit in the cockpit with the pilot and copilot of the plane and observe them going about their jobs. The whole science of flight became less of a mystery to him. So maybe have Ovechkin sit in on a few of the coaches meetings and such and have him bounce some ideas around and see what happens. Something like that. At the very least keep the lines of communication open. Anything to help this coach/player relationship get off on the right foot.
Something else I just thought of that's along the same vein. I wonder how often Ovechkin studies tape of past games. It might be an eye opener for him. He could even get his brother Sergei to help him out. That's his job, analyzing tape....for the Washington Mystics. Just trying to be original. But in all seriousness it could help him come up with some new tricks to get around defenses.
None of this is to absolve him of helping to allow a bad situation to get worse. Far from it. The onus is still on him to get out there and produce. But what does it prove if the new boss is worse than the old? Where does that leave the team? Reason is called for here not so much a hardline approach. Still, it's on Ovechkin to get it done on the ice. Hunter may just be the guy to coax it out of him from what I hear. His resume isn't all that bad when you look at it. He's already turned out future stars like Rick Nash, Corey Perry and Patrick Kane just for example.
So which way will the Caps go? While it's yet to be determined, one thing is for sure. Dale Hunter will put his stamp on this team. And that means a much better effort overall. By everybody.