From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- Dale Hunter made his Washington Capitals coaching debut in a blue suit. He had to. "It's the only one I got," he said. Hunter was behind the bench on the NHL level for the first time Tuesday night as the Capitals lost 2-1 to the St. Louis Blues. He was tabbed as the replacement for Bruce Boudreau, who was fired Monday. "I definitely have butterflies going," Hunter said before the game. "It's like the first game when you get traded." Hunter played 19 seasons in the NHL and spent the past 11 years coaching the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, where he wore the same suit every game. He said he plans to continue the ritual with the Capitals. "I only have to wear it two hours and a half every game," he said. So how often does he go to the dry cleaners? "I go after every game," he said with a laugh, "unless it's back-to-back." As he spoke, Hunter wore a lime green tie with blue and white diagonal stripes. Surely he must have another one, right? "Nope," he said. "Same one." Well, not quite. During the game, he sported a red tie. In contrast to his noted intensity as a player -- Hunter ranks second all time in NHL history in penalty minutes -- Hunter's meeting with reporters two hours prior to faceoff turned into a pretty good stand-up routine. Asked what has surprised him the most in the two days he's held the job, he looked back at the throng and said: "You guys." "There used to be three people here," said Hunter, recalling the sometimes scant media attention the team received when he played here from 1987-99. "That's good for the area. That's how much the Caps have won, and fans are following them and you guys are following them. That's awesome." Hunter had a reputation for playing locker room practical jokes during his playing days, but he says that's behind him -- for the most part. "I grew up," the 51-year-old Hunter said. "I'm a coach now. I don't do it to players. I might do it to coaching staff." Expect Hunter to be demanding when it counts as he handles the reins of a team that was failing to meet high expectations. "I have as a player been through some coaching changes, and it does give you a lift," he said. "It's all new. You've got a clean slate again. ... I'm an emotional guy. We're in the trenches together, the coaches and the players, and it's up to us to win."
Albert Almora’s foul ball that struck a young girl in Houston’s Minute Maid Park started a discussion around baseball. The other team in Chicago became the first to act on it.
On Tuesday, the White Sox announced that the team will be extending the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field to both foul poles later this summer. As the news broke in the afternoon, Cubs players were asked about it before the first Crosstown game of the year. Unsurprisingly, all of them were in favor of the move.
“I think obviously that’s a positive step in this sport,” Almora said. “I don’t think anybody should go home with bumps or bruises or even worse so whatever they got to do to take care of that, I’m glad they’re taking procedures.”
Almora admitted that the incident he was involved in has moved the conversation forward and led to more action from teams. Before the White Sox announced the decision, the Iowa Cubs, the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, had said they would be extending the netting at their park.
“Unfortunately my incident was, I don’t want to say the reason behind it, but I think teams are obviously paying attention,” Almora said. “Even incidents that aren’t making headlines, we had one in Dodgers Stadium where I saw the section of the crowd go silent while we’re still playing. At least 10 fans go home with bumps and bruises at the best. I don’t want to see that and I know any player in this league doesn’t want to see that either.”
Jon Lester thinks more teams will follow suit now that the White Sox have been the first one to extend the netting..
“Would I like to see it? 100 percent, but we’ll see how far my opinion gets us,” Lester said. “It’s a positive. Obviously when one team does it, then you get kind of the herding effect and the rest of people follow.”
Anthony Rizzo also believes the rest of the league will get there eventually, but wasn’t sure going all the way to the foul poles is necessary.
“Both foul poles is pretty aggressive in my opinion, but you don’t want to see anyone get hurt,” Rizzo said. “I think sooner or later it probably will end up being both foul poles for every team, but I think the netting here is really good. There’s some line drives that hit fans, but that’s far enough away where it’s not the span of a finger and if you’re engaged in a game, which most everyone here is usually. You don’t ever want to see anyone get hurt so whatever it takes for people not to get hurt.”
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In today's episode of Extremely Easy Decisions, the White Sox have made perhaps one of the easiest:
It’s official pic.twitter.com/gPwhguPMvp— James Fegan (@JRFegan) June 18, 2019
According to at least one reporter, the decision has been in the works for a couple months now, even pre-dating the Cubs-Astros incident from last month:
The Chicago #WhiteSox have been discussing this for months, long before the incident in Houston, and now will extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field from foul pole to foul pole, per @CST_soxvan. The change likely will take place for the 2020 season— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) June 18, 2019
It'll be the first MLB stadium that has protective netting that stretches out all the way to both foul poles, so kudos to the White Sox for not waiting around any longer. An easy decision, made easily! Turns out it's just that simple after all.