Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 03/31/12 at 03:18 PM ET
from Pat Borzi of the New York Times,
More than 20 years ago, before winning a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999 and amassing close to 600 victories, Hitchcock coached major junior hockey in Kamloops, British Columbia. After Columbus fired him, Hitchcock spent a year and a half as an N.H.L. scout and minor league consultant for the Blue Jackets. In that time, he studied the makeup of prospects and young professionals.
“The thing that stuck out in my mind, this is junior hockey played by professional athletes,” Hitchcock said last week outside the St. Louis dressing room. “They have the same fun-loving disposition about them. Attention span is short. They’re a little bit older. They’ve got a little bit more money. But they’re still kids. So that has been my attitude every day: how would I coach back in the ’80s?”
To adjust, Hitchcock scaled back his overbearing manner. He yelled less and instructed more. He relied on veterans like the captain David Backes and the alternate captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who played for Hitchcock in Dallas and in the minors, to spread his message. And when Hitchcock criticized a young player or adjusted his role, he offered a suggestion for improvement.
The results? Though lacking a superstar, the Blues surged behind strong checking, brutally efficient special teams — all Hitchcock trademarks — and record-setting goaltending.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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