Knights’ Hunter hits 600 mark

The former NHL center needed just 906 games to become the sixth coach to win 600 in the OHL.

Dale Hunter’s name is now etched alongside the OHL’s most venerable bench bosses.

The London Knights coach earned his 600th win on Saturday night in a 7-0 road win over the Saginaw Spirit, becoming just the sixth person to accomplish the feat.

Hunter joins Brian Kilrea, Bert Templeton, Larry Mavety, Stan Butler and George Burnett in the esteemed club.

Hunter reached the plateau faster than the others, requiring just 906 games. He entered the season with 590 wins on his resume and needed just 14 games to get to 600. His Knights are 10-2-1-1, which is only good for third behind the Erie Otters and Kitchener Rangers in the ultra-competitive Midwest Division.

Hunter has co-owned and coached the Knights almost exclusively since 2000. His 2004-05 Knights set an OHL record with 59 regular season wins before winning the league championship and Memorial Cup. That team featured the likes of Anaheim Ducks right winger Corey Perry, Florida Panthers center Dave Bolland, Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot, Vancouver Canucks left winger Brandon Prust and New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi.

Hunter’s Knights also won OHL titles in 2011-12 and 2012-13. However, the first of those championships saw Hunter’s brother, Mark, take over behind the bench early in the season after the Washington Capitals hired him to replace Bruce Boudreau. The Caps went 30-23-7 under Hunter and lost in the Eastern Conference semifinal to the Rangers. Hunter returned to the Knights after the off-season, giving away to Adam Oates.

Before his days as a coach, Hunter recorded 323 goals, 1,020 points and 3,563 penalty minutes in 1,407 NHL games as a feisty center for Quebec, Washington and Colorado. He retired 12 games into the 1998-99 season.