PHILADELPHIA -- Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo had a pretty simple answer when asked his opinion of Dale Hunter: "I'm not the player I am today if it wasn't for Dale Hunter."
Rinaldo played for Hunter with the London Knights for parts of two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10), and had no problem crediting Hunter for his rise to the NHL.
Rinaldo had 12 goals, 20 assists and 237 penalty minutes in 56 games playing with Hunter.
"Dale lets his players play hockey," Rinaldo told NHL.com. "If you come to the rink prepared to play and he sees you're working hard, you'll get the ice time."
Hunter told NHL.com he was happy to see Rinaldo emerge as a full-time NHL player this season. In 57 games, he has 2 goals, 6 assists and is second in the League with 190 penalty minutes. Beyond that, however, he's emerged as a useful fourth-line checking forward who supplies speed and energy on the forecheck.
"You can see he's an aggressive kid," Hunter said. "He cares about winning and losing, and he's got the fire in the belly. … You try to corral it, without taking penalties and stuff. He's been doing a good job of it. He playing against top lines, he's learning his defensive responsibilities. He's a great kid, got a great personality. He just wants to play hockey. He's a hockey player."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK