Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Dale Hunter of the London Knights is the 2009-10 winner of the Matt Leyden Trophy awarded to the OHL’s Coach of the Year.
Hunter led the Knights to a 49-16-1-2 record for 101 points to capture his third Matt Leyden Trophy. He previously won the award in two straight seasons including 2003-04 and 2004-05 following an OHL Championship and MasterCard Memorial Cup title. The 2009-10 campaign marked his second straight Midwest Division title and the sixth time in seven seasons where he coached the Knights to a 100-point finish.
“This is a very special honour for me to receive this award” said Hunter. “When the GM’s vote for you it is not just a reflection of your season but of your entire coaching staff and the organization. I enjoy coaching, and watching the kids get better and better throughout the year is something to be proud of.”
Hunter, a 49-year-old native of Petrolia, ON, just completed his ninth season behind the Knights bench surpassing Bill Long as the longest serving coach in Knights history. Long spent eight seasons as Head Coach from 1972-73 to 1979-80. Prior to coaching, Hunter played 19 seasons in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques, Washington Capitals, and Colorado Avalanche up until the 1998-99 season. In 1407 career NHL games he recorded 1020 points with 323 goals and 697 assists. An OHL graduate, he played his junior hockey with the Kitchener Rangers and the Sudbury Wolves.
Hunter is just the second OHL coach to win the Matt Leyden Trophy three times behind five-time winner Brian Kilrea of the Ottawa 67’s. Bert Templeton (Hamilton and North Bay), Terry Crisp (Sault Ste. Marie), George Burnett (Niagara Falls), Gary Agnew (London), Craig Hartsburg (Guelph and Sault Ste. Marie), Peter DeBoer (Plymouth), and Bob Boughner (Windsor) have each won the award twice.
The Matt Leyden Trophy is voted on by the member teams of the Ontario Hockey League. In a first round of balloting, teams vote for the top coaches, within their own conference. The top three nominees from both the Eastern and Western conferences are declared as finalists. A second round of voting is then conducted on a league wide basis where teams vote for any of the six finalists. At no time during the voting can a team vote for their own candidate. Coaches receive five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.
Hunter received 47 points in the voting process ahead of Dave Cameron of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors who received 39 points, and Marty Williamson of the Barrie Colts who received 36 points.
The Matt Leyden Trophy has been awarded annually since 1972 in recognition of the contributions of Matt Leyden, past President of the Ontario Hockey Association from 1965-1967. The Oshawa native was honored as a lifetime member of the OHA in 1972.
Hunter will be formally presented with the award at the 2009-10 OHL Awards Ceremony taking place Wednesday June 9 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, and will also be the OHL’s nominee for the Canadian Hockey League Coach of the Year.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)