Dave Hunter

Dave Hunter came from one of hockey's greatest families. Three brothers from Petrolia, Ontario all made it to the NHL - Dale, Mark and 3 time Stanley Cup champ Dave. (Tim Hunter, a long time rival of Dave's in the old Battle of Alberta, was not related to the three brothers.)

Dave Hunter was a role player par excellence. In fact, if you were to look up the term 3rd or 4th line role player in a hockey dictionary - it would say See Dave Hunter. Dave - in typical Hunter fashion, was a mean, extremely physical and effective player along the boards, wearing down the opposition with tenacious forechecking and physical contact. Yet despite his aggressiveness, Hunter usually part had small PIM totals. That shows his true value as a smart and controlled energy player. He was particularly effective on the road.

Though not a graceful player in the finesse sense, Dave combined decent skating speed and good balance with excellent vision and anticipation to make him one of the top defensive forwards of the 1980s. One of the biggest reasons for his defensive excellence is he was such a good positional player.

An original draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens (17th overall in 1978), Hunter actually signed as an underage junior with Edmonton when the Oilers were still in the WHA. In 1979 the Oilers joined the NHL and obtained Hunter's NHL rights in the Expansion Draft.

Hunter might have made the Habs regret letting him go. In the post season of 1981, the young Oilers served notice that they had arrived when they upset the heavily favored and legendary Montreal Canadiens. Hunter was assigned to cover Montreal's top offensive weapon Guy Lafleur, and he did a masterful job. The Flower picked up only a lonely assist in that series.

Hunter enjoyed 8 1/2 seasons in the City of Champions where he was a quiet though nice piece of the Gretzky-led dynasty. Hunter was a consistent 35-40 points a season but his true worth was his defensive contributions on a team not known for playing defense.

At the height of his success, Dave had to fight some personal demons. In 1985 he was convicted three times for drunken driving and refusing to take a breathalyzer test. A mandatory 28 day prison sentence was upgraded to a 4 month detention period, which he was allowed to serve after the hockey season.

In 1988 Hunter was part of the big Paul Coffey deal that landed the two ex-Oilers in Pittsburgh. Hunter's stay in Pittsburgh was brief (59 games) before he was returned to Edmonton in October 1988 as compensation for Pittsburgh's claiming of Dave Hannan from the Oilers. However the exact same day the Winnipeg Jets selected Hunter from Edmonton as the Oilers were unable to protect him in the pre-season waiver draft.

After playing 34 games in Winnipeg, he was again exposed on waivers. This time the Oilers quickly picked him up. Hunter finished the season, his last in pro hockey, with the Oilers.

In all, Dave Hunter scored 133 goals and 190 assists for 323 points in 746 NHL games. The oldest of the three Hunter brothers to play in the NHL, Dave probably had the least offensive talents in the family but Dave ended up with three Stanley Cup rings compared to Mark's one and Dale's none.


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