May 19, 2006

Tim Hunter

Tim Hunter only scored 138 points in over 800 NHL games, but was a player every team in the NHL would have killed to have.

"I was a player with not a lot of talent but came to play every night and played very hard, hated to lose and loved the game and loved to win."

Tim had no measurable finesse skill to speak of. He was at best an average skater. He had no speed or agility on skates but had excellent balance, which aided him in the physical game. He could do little with the puck in terms of shooting, passing or handling. Most of his goals came by crashing the crease or accidentally deflecting off his shin guard.

While Tim lacked the skills to do the finesse game, he excelled at the physical game. He was as big and strong as they come. He did some good work along the boards and in front of the net. And of course Time was a willing and good fighter, and occasionally would use his lumber in a not so legal manner.

Tim had a small and well defined role on the ice, but it is impossible to over exaggerate the importance of his contributions off of it. He was a great team player - excellent in the dressing rooms. The Calgary Flames became a powerhouse in the 1980s, and Tim's fingerprints are all over that. His wit, humor, support and leadership helped to mold a group of individuals into a top flight team. It is Tim's off ice contributions that were the most important contribution he made to his hockey team.

Hunter was originally drafted by the Atlanta Flames in the third round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. It wasn't until the 1983-84 campaign that Hunter made the NHL for his first full season, and registering his best offensive numbers (11 + 11 for 22 points). By this time of course the Flames relocated to Calgary, Alberta, Tim Hunter's home town.

Tim never really dreamed of playing in his hometown as the NHL wasn't there when he was a kid, but he did appreciate that opportunity. Tim became a mainstay in Calgary as much as Lanny McDonald or Paul Reinhart.. Tim of course played the role of enforcer. Most often he could be found on the 4th line right wing, although he occasionally played on left wing and defense - a position he had trained as a junior with the Seattle Breakers.

Hunter played in Calgary for parts of 11 seasons and left the Flames as the club's all-time leader in penalty minutes with 2,405. He was an assistant captain with the team for a long time, including when the Flames captured their first Stanley Cup in 1989.

Though he will always be remembered as a Flame, he did play with some other organizations as his career wound down. He joined the Quebec Nordiques for the 1992-93 season before being claimed on waivers by the Vancouver Canucks half way through the season. Tim spent parts of four seasons with the Canucks and was an inspirational leader in helping Vancouver to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. He left the Canucks after the 1995-96 season and signed with the San Jose Sharks for the following year where he finished his career.

Hunter finished his playing career with 62 goals, 76 assists and 138 points and 3,146 penalty minutes in 815 regular season games while collecting 13 points in 132 playoff contests.

Tim stepped behind the bench to become an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals following his playing days. Its a natural progression for Tim, who as a player practically did a similar job anyways. Only know he gets a little less ice time during games!

No biography of Tim would be complete without mentioning his nose. It s one of the most well recognized in the business. One would think by looking at it that this former NHL tough guy must have had his nose broken a dozen times, but Tim says he has never had a broken nose!

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