Ice Hockey: Hard-man Hunter ends his career

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TWO DAYS before his 39th birthday, Dale Hunter announced his retirement from the National Hockey League on Thursday after a 19-year career which had seen the bruising centre become the all-time leader in play-off penalty minutes.

Hunter, who will join the Washington Capitals as a player development instructor, spent 12 of his 19 seasons with the Capitals before being sold to the Colorado Avalanche last season.

Although known for his rough-and-tumble play, Hunter was more than an enforcer. He is the only player in NHL history with 300 goals, 1,000 points and 3,000 penalty minutes.

Hunter tops the all-time list for post-season penalty minutes with 729 in 186 games. He ranks second all-time with 3,565 regular-season penalty minutes.

In the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs, Hunter delivered a vicious hit after play had stopped to the New York Islanders forward Pierre Turgeon. He was suspended for the first 21 games of the ensuing season, the longest suspension for an on-ice incident in NHL history.

Hunter's 11 points last season was the lowest total of his career and came one year after he reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time. Hunter ranks among Washington's all-time top 10 in six offensive categories in the regular season.

Hunter was one of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's two choices for the 1997 All-Star Game, marking his lone All-Star appearance.

He spent his first seven seasons with Quebec before moving to Washington after the 1986-87 season.