Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
It would be a difficult sell for the Blues to open training camp in September with the same group that made its fan base soon forget a Central Division championship by bowing out in a six-game loss to the Wild. And now that Armstrong has, in part, absolved Hitchcock, the pressure will shift on the GM to see what he can do to alter the club’s composition.
“I don’t see it that way,” Armstrong said. “I think it’s a good coaching staff, that’s why they’re coming back. I know there’s going to be four or five changes already just based on free agency and the age of players. The team that wins the Stanley Cup is probably going to have four or five roster changes. It’s just the nature of a salary-cap system. So we are going to have a different look.”
Much of the fan focus has been centered on disassembling the Blues’ core, a group that many identify as including David Backes, Alexander Steen, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Barret Jackman.
Backes has one season left on his five-year contract, while Steen, Oshie and Berglund each have two years remaining on their deals. Jackman will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
In reality, this is not the club’s complete core, but a mixture of a few key players and a collection of the old guard that has been involved in the string of postseason failures.
from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“We are going to have a different look,” Armstrong said. “We’re going to explore improving our team to levels we probably haven’t explored in the past. But it has to make sense.”
The word Hitchcock kept coming back to describe it Tuesday was “reckless,” and he must have believed it because he used it five times in the span of 85 words at one point. Recklessness, he admitted, has the potential to be a lot of fun and can also give a coach more gray hairs, which brought a smirk to the face of Armstrong, sitting next to Hitchcock, as he no doubt was trying to figure if Hitchcock had any hair that hadn’t already turned gray.
“We’ve got to go back to reckless,” Hitchcock said. “(Our style is) too conservative, it’s too careful, it’s too much skill ahead of work. We’ve got to get back to reckless. We’ve got more skill than we’ve ever had since I’ve been here. But skilled, careful hockey doesn’t win. You’ve got to play reckless. We need to get back to the reckless play we had before. That’s what Doug and I talked about. You can do it and still be responsible. But we’ve got to get back to reckless play. We’ve got to ask more people to be involved offensively and defensively.”
Armstrong pointed to two defensemen on the roster who didn’t see action in the playoffs as examples of what the team is looking for: Robert Bortuzzo and Petteri Lindbohm. He mentioned the names of forwards Ty Rattie and Robby Fabbri as youngsters who will get long looks early in the season.
Army on whether Babcock reports impact Hitchcock's ability to lead the Blues: "Not really. I think the players live in the modern ...
world of social media. When you look over the season, the number of things you read, if 1/10th of that ever came true, I'd be shocked.
I think it's the media's job responsibility to sometimes report the facts and sometimes make stuff up because it's good story."
-via Jeremy Ruthorford tweets.
More from Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the press conference with Armstong and Hitchcock today.
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was a huge disappointment, but his contract makes moving him difficult.
T.J Oshie seems like an obvious target, given his high trade value, significant salary and unproductive playoff. He also had the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, the team was subjected to information overload.
Patrik Berglund had a couple of big playoff moments, but that scarcely helped fans forget his ineffective regular season. As Armstrong looks for ways to create payroll flexibility, Berglund's roster spot would be a good place to start.
It would be great to see venerable defenseman Barret Jackman finish his career where it started, but there is no room for sentimentality when a team keeps coming up short in the playoffs.
Armstrong could do something much bigger and trade previously untouchable players.Again, the core group of this team is clearly in transition.
An interesting summer awaits this franchise now that Hitchcock is back on board to start another year.
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club and Head Coach Ken Hitchcock have agreed on a one-year contract.
Hitchcock, 63, was originally named the 24th head coach in Blues history on Nov. 7, 2011. Since, he has guided the Blues to four straight postseason appearances, three 100-point regular season campaigns and two Central Division championships. In 2014-15, he captured his second Central Division title with the club, while logging the third-best regular season record in franchise history (51-24-7, 109 pts).
During Hitchcock’s four-year tenure, the Blues have posted the NHL’s best regular season record (175-79-27, .671) and achieved three of the top four regular season records in franchise history. Hitchcock’s success has landed him second on the club’s all-time wins list and first in terms of points percentage (.671). Hitchcock has reached several milestones behind the Blues’ bench including Mar. 12, 2015, when he became the fourth coach in NHL history to reach 700 career regular season wins. In addition, in the Blues’ Central Division-winning 2011-12 campaign, he became just the fourth head coach in franchise history to receive the NHL’s Jack Adams Award as the League’s best coach.
from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,
While he indicated Thursday he has been having discussions with current St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock since the season ended, General Manager Doug Armstrong refused to shed any light on the team’s coaching situation.
Hitchcock’s contract expires in June and the Blues reportedly explored the possibility of bringing in former Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. Media reports suggested that Babcock had talks with the Blues, Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres before deciding to sign a record-breaking eight-year, $50 million contract to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs.
During a conference call with reporters Thursday to discuss the hiring of new assistant general manager Martin Brodeur, Armstrong was asked specifically if he knew whether Hitchcock would be brought back as head coach of the Blues next season.
“You’re trying to put words in my mouth,” Armstrong said. “When I have something to communicate, I will.”
(May 20, 2015) – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has named Martin Brodeur Assistant General Manager. The Blues and Brodeur have agreed on a three-year contract.
Brodeur, 43, originally joined the Blues as a free agent on Dec. 2, 2014. After a seven-game stint with the club, during which he posted a 3-3-0 record, Brodeur announced his retirement from the NHL on Jan. 29 and moved into the Blues’ front office as a Senior Advisor to the General Manager.
from Jeremy P. Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
... But what if Babcock says "no" to the Blues?
The list of candidates outside the Detroit bench boss is short and underwhelming. Todd McLellan, who left San Jose this offseason, will be named as Edmonton's next coach Tuesday afternoon. The Sharks are said to be interested in former New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer and former Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma. Meanwhile, if Babcock does return to the Red Wings, Buffalo and Toronto will still be looking for coaches as well.
The likely scenario is that the Blues would turn back to Hitchcock, despite the fact that it's now known that they are trying to replace him. It doesn't seem like the club would be worried about how that looks from the outside, because the Blues were trying to bring in one of the league's top coaches and would be returning to one who has won the fourth most games in history.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
The private planes have already been dispatched, the tours planned, the sales pitches made — daily, even hourly — to Mike Babcock. The eventual coronation can’t possibly be far away.
All of this is happening while Ken Hitchcock waits for a telephone call or meeting to learn of his coaching future.
“Amazing,” said an NHL general manager, who didn’t want his name involved. “You have one coach with one playoff series win in four years that everybody wants to hire and one coach with exactly the same record — one playoff win in four years — that everybody wants to fire.”
Hitchcock has coached the St. Louis Blues for almost four seasons. He has won one Stanley Cup in his career, albeit not in St. Louis. Babcock has won one, also — his in Detroit.
Hitchcock also lost a Stanley Cup in Dallas. Babcock lost two — one in Anaheim, one in Detroit.
We chose to believe that the Blues were loading up for a deep run. We chose to believe that the six-goals-and-a-shutout Blues were going to show up every night. We chose to believe that this year’s Blues were something different than the team we knew.
That’s on us, honestly. So how do we prepare for next year? Heads will not roll. Oh sure, someone will be gone by next year, but it won’t be everybody and their brother. Thinking about who can get us the most value leads to the sad conclusion that it’s Steen… so let’s pretend that’s not on the table. We’re Blues fans; we can pretend with the best of ‘em.
-hildymac, a fan post at St. Louis Game Time where you can read more on the Blues.
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