Dale Hunter is a stoic player who keeps his feelings under wraps in good times and bad.
But yesterday, when he emerged from a team meeting in which Capitals general manager David Poile announced Hunter had been named to the NHL All-Star team as a special selection by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, he was anything but stoic
"I don't know what to say," Hunter said, his eyes moist, his voice catching. "Give me a few minutes."
Hunter joins Philadelphia Flyers center Dale Hawerchuk as the commissioner's choices for the Eastern Conference All-Star team. The selection makes Hunter an All-Star for the first time in his 17-year career.
He spent his first seven seasons in the league with the Quebec Nordiques and has been with the Capitals for the past 10. He has been the heart and soul of both teams and currently wears the captain's "C" on his Washington sweater.
Capitals right wing Peter Bondra was named to the Eastern squad last week.
Opposing players around the league recognize Hunter as a premier checker and hard-nosed player. He still may be best known for the late hit he made on former New York Islanders star Pierre Turgeon during the 1993 playoffs.
Turgeon broke his collarbone, and Bettman handed Hunter the longest suspension for an on-ice incident in NHL history -- 21 games.
"When the suspension ended, the matter was over," Bettman said, "and his career was viewed in its totality. And that makes him an All-Star this year."
Hunter is second in all-time penalty minutes with 3,274, but he also has totaled more than 20 goals in each of nine seasons and has 1,062 points in regular season and postseason play.
Hunter, 36, is the Capitals' third-leading scorer this season with eight goals and 17 assists.
"I think it's 13 or 14 years too late," Caps defenseman Calle Johansson said.
Pub Date: 1/09/97