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Entries with the tag: ken hitchcock

Will McDavid, Eichel become ‘generational’ players?

From the Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal:

People keep calling Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel “generational” players.

It’s a glowing description for the pair of 18-year-old centres expected to be the first and second picks in Friday’s National Hockey League draft at Sunrise, Fla. But what does that mean? Is it the next rung up from a franchise player?

“A generational player to me is a complete player who needs limited coaching, understands the time and temperature of a game, and can beat you with his work and beat you with his skill,” said St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “You don’t have to paint them a picture to get them to understand it. They already have it in their DNA.”

Bobby Orr had it. So did Wayne Gretzky. Mario Lemieux, for sure. They come along every 10 to 20 years, if hockey fans are lucky.

Eric Lindros was thought to be a generational talent as a teenager because he was so big and made plays with soft hands. Concussion problems, though, limited his climb up the generational scale. Sidney Crosby was a wunderkind growing up, but will he ever be on par with Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux?

McDavid and Eichel, the Boston University freshman centre, have been the rage for years and had scouts raving “watch this kid; he can do it all.” They are both coming to the NHL with a skill set and more hoopla than all the rest. But they haven’t played an NHL game.

Continued

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  Tags: connor+mcdavid, eric+lindros, jack+eichel, ken+hitchcock, mario+lemieux, sidney+crosby, wayne+gretzky

A One-Year Contract For Ken Hitchcock In St. Louis

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. 

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Saturday Headlines discuss coaches’ moves and Dubnyk

On Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman discussed the post-Babcock coaching dominoes (Todd Nelson of Edmonton "free to look around," Don Sweeney meeting with Claude Julien to discuss "personnel and style of play," Dan Bylsma's status, Ken Hitchcock's future) and Devan Dubnyk's desire to re-sign with the Wild:

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  Tags: boston+bruins, claude+julien, devan+dubnyk, don+sweeney, edmonton+oilers, ken+hitchcock, minnesota+wild, st.+louis+blues, todd+nelson

The Latest On Ken Hitchcock

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.”

continued

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

What About Ken Hitchcock?

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.

more

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock Needs Time To Decide His Future

from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he needed time to reflect on the season before making a decision as to whether he'll return as coach of the Blues next season.

"I need time," Hitchcock said. "I need time to reflect, some time to evaluate right now, what I've done, what I've accomplished, what's happened to us, both positive, a lot of it, and the negative, which goes with the territory. I feel like I've let people down right now and I need to look at that and what needs to improve and I want time and space to evaluate it. I'll sit down with Doug, we've been together a long time, I know how good a coach I am, I know what I can do."

continued

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock Still An Unsigned Coach

from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

“There are going to be some dynamite teams in our conference that don’t get in (the playoffs). A lot of it is based on the players’ ability to buy what the coaching staff is selling. We’ve accomplished that while transforming the team,” he said. “But what’s invigorated me is coaching a different group of guys. There have been four or five changes and we’ve still had a high level of success. I think the staff and players buying in is what drives me to coach a lot longer. I really want to do that.”

Still, by leaving his future open for question this season, it’s fair to wonder if the organization holds to its September position that the job is his as long as Hitchcock desires it.

Four years is an eternity in the NHL. The Blues have advanced past the first round only once under Hitchcock and have yet to win a second-round game. Forward T.J. Oshie cited information overload after Monday’s unsightly loss to Vancouver. Hitchcock assumes assurances offered in September remain in force today. Others in the organization suggest less tolerance for another first-round playoff exit given the previous three years’ 8-13 postseason record.

“There’s always going to be a question for players and coaches until we win a first round. But it’s a question I’m not afraid to answer,” Hitchcock said. “I don’t know the answer right now but this team is built to go long in series, long in games. We’ve won a lot of games late. We’ve been at our best in the second and third periods. We know we can go the distance. Like everyone else I won’t know until it plays out but I’m looking forward to answering the questions.”

more

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock On The Lack Of Scoring In The NHL

via Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters,

Following his team's morning skate, Hitchcock was asked about the lack of scoring in the NHL this season:

"Well I think it's still a star-power driven league. I'd like to see guys get 100 points. I'd like to see 50-goal scorers again. I'd like to see all that stuff be brought in but one of the problems you have right now is there's just too much mobility in the game. Too many teams have four lines that can skate. They have four [defensemen] that are mobile. When the mobility in the game is at the level it's at now, they can recover ice. You don't get the odd-man rushes that you did before. I think this is the way the game is going to be played now. It really hard to get open offensively because people can recover ice so much.

You had, even three, four years ago, you had five, six guys on the team that were great skaters. Now, you've got a dozen on every team. You go look at junior hockey, you look at college hockey, it is really, really fast right now. Just the mobility is the key thing. Kids are being taught skating at a prime age and the mobility in the game has just changed so much right now. I just think this is the way it's going to be for the next 20 years."

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Garrioch discusses the Coyotes, Fisher and the Blues’ Hitch-up

Of the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch's numerous Sunday hockey notes, these struck me as the most interesting and intriguing:

You have to wonder about the future of the Arizona Coyotes when the five-year out clause expires. The owners group already have piled up $34 million in losses and $50 million in four years is the point where the club can exercise a move. No, this news isn't stunning, but it's no wonder Andrew Barroway, who took over the Coyotes in January, pushed for a rebuild.

The Predators already have opened talks with UFA C Mike Fisher and he likely isn't going anywhere, but if he does go to market he's going to have something to think about. "There'd be strong offers for him," said a league executive Friday. Not only is Fisher hard-nosed, he's got good offensive skills and can help a team win. Turns out he has been an excellent fit in the West since being dealt to Nashville by the Senators but even if Fisher gets to free agency there's not much chance he's leaving the Predators.

St. Louis could be a hotspot in the off-season if they don't get past the first round. The Blues are on a collision course to face the Chicago Blackhawks and that never has turned out very well in the past. Coach Ken Hitchcock has done an excellent job, however, he has to start getting results in the post-season. If he doesn't, then it's quite possible there could be a change behind the bench.

Garrioch continues, discussing Nazem Kadri, the Sharks, Ted Nolan and the Devils...

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, ken+hitchcock, mike+fisher, nashville+predators, phoenix+coyotes, st.+louis+blues

All Ken Hitchcock

from Curtis Rush of the Toronto Star,

The Star chatted with Hitchcock on Friday, a day before the Blues faced the Leafs, and we asked him about coaching and innovations in hockey.

You don’t allow players to hang their heads on the bench. Why?

We hate that here because there’s body language that the opposition is looking at. You never want the opposition to say you’re discouraged, we don’t put up with it. There are no sloped shoulders.

You speak of ownership from the team’s best players. What does that mean?

I think if the best players aren’t leading it becomes a little bit chaotic, so we ask our top players to lead us, not just in the games but in the practices. The demands we place on them aren’t so much what they say, it’s how they perform everyday when we’re together.

Have you ever been offered a chance to coach the Leafs, and would you if the chance presented itself?

I’m not commenting on that one, they have a coach.

read on

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock After The Blues 5-2 Loss To The Canadiens

from Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

“What we’re doing is not paying any respect to checking,” he said. “We’re not paying any respect to defense, to managing the puck, to managing the proper way to play. I don’t care what the shots on goal are. When you give up as many odd-man rushes as we gave up in the last two games, we’re showing no respect for what matters in the National Hockey League at this time.

“And in the offensive zone, the sense of urgency that we’re not playing with, that we’ve played with all year, is not there. That’s why we don’t score, that’s why we don’t get second and third chances, that’s why we don’t win the front-of-the-net battles. Those combinations are lethal the wrong way. You have no control over the hockey game because of the scoring chances you give up off these odd-man rushes.

“We’re a team that’s made a lot of great inroads on playing a certain way and now we don’t want to play that way, and we’re not interested in playing the way that’s been successful here. We want to play a different way right now and it’s really, really hurting us.”

more on the Blues...

Below, watch Hitchcock post-game...

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Simmons on the Franson trade, Burmistrov and Price for Hart

Amongst the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday hockey and/or sports-related notes, which mostly involve the Toronto Maple Leafs:

If you break down the Cody Franson-Mike Santorelli trade, it’s basically Franson for a late first-round pick and Santorelli for the prospect Brendan Leipsic. The Leafs had a very extensive book on Leipsic, partly because personnel man Mark Hunter had his London Knights play against him in the Memorial Cup. Leipsic is known for three things: 1) being small; 2) being ultra-competitive; 3) having ridiculous ‘he could stickhandle in a phone booth’ hands...

Coaches that interest the Leafs: Still working division: Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan; Ken Hitchcock; Dave Tippett; Out of work division: Peter DeBoer. Seemingly no interest: Dan Bylsma...

The Leafs also have some interest in Alexander Burmistrov, the troubled high draft pick playing in the KHL, whose rights are owned by Winnipeg...

I'm intrigued by Burmistrov myself--he's 23 and liberally-listed at 6' and 179 pounds, and he hasn't exactly lit it up during two seasons with the Ak Bars Kazan, but he's still fleet-footed as all hell get out, and he could be somebody's next-year reclamation project.

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: alexander+burmistrov, carey+price, cody+franson, dan+bylsma, dave+tippett, hart+trophy, ken+hitchcock, mike+babcock, mike+santorelli, montreal+canadiens, nashville+predators, pete+deboer, todd+mclellan, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets

Evening Line- Ken Hitchcock

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock

All Ken Hitchcock

from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,

Earlier [Monday] when you were talking to the media here you said to be good on special teams you want the percentages on the power play and penalty kill to add up to 105. Why 105? And why has the Blues penalty kill this season been problematic?

"The old number used to 100, but 100 doesn't get you in the top-10 now in the League, especially because the PK numbers are so high. To me 105 is a goal, that if your number reaches there you're winning that game within the game. So that's the goal every 10 games to get to that 105 number. That means special teams are helping you, not hurting you. When the 5-on-5 play is even, either your PK is helping you win the game or your power play is helping you win it. When you get close to that number, you're going to win the special teams game in most games...

read on and four more questions for Hitchcock too...

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Garrioch: ‘The heat is definitely on Hitchcock’

Staal, Myers, and more! The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch also offers the following rumors:

The St. Louis Blues could fire coach Ken Hitchcock if his team isn’t able to get its act together quickly. The heat is definitely on Hitchcock after an early playoff exit last spring and the club brought in Bob Gainey to act as a mentor. The Blues signed centre Paul Statsny in the off-season and expect to be better. If they don’t buy into Hitchcock’s program soon, you would have to think changes are coming ... With the World Cup of Hockey set to return in 2016 in Toronto, the committee has spoken with organizers of the Toronto International Film about overlapping their last week with the tournament. Not sure TIFF needs the exposure but it would be a good fit for the NHL and NHLPA to get more notice ... Confirm or deny: The Coyotes and the Senators had discussions about defenceman Jared Cowen ... A league executive said Friday teams will start to get nervous at the 20-game mark. “You don’t really know what you’ve got after 10 games. You have a pretty good idea after 20,” he said.

Garrioch continues and suggests that Martin Brodeur is still dead-set on being a #1 goaltender, and I don't want to post this, but I suppose I have to:

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: anaheim+ducks, bob+murray, buffalo+sabres, detroit+red+wings, jared+cowen, ken+hitchcock, ottawa+senators, st.+louis+blues, tyler+myers, world+cup

Morning Line - Ken Hitchcock

“We’re not playing the right way. We made a heck of a run here playing the right way, no odd-man rushes, don’t force offense, don’t give the puck away and make hope-for plays offensively. We’ve had a shoot-first mentality that allowed us to be top five in the league in scoring goals. But we don’t want to play the right way. We want to play a different game right now. Until we buy into that, we’re going to have some rough water we have to go through.

 

“When you force offense and you play careless with the puck, when you have defensemen who want to play ahead of the forwards, you end up with a recipe for disaster. … We’ve given up more odd-man rushes in six hockey games than we did in two months last year. You can’t win like that. The alarm bell’s going off.”

-Ken Hitchcock, coach of the St. Louis Blues after losing 4-1 at home to Vancouver.  More on the game from Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Below, watch Hitchcock's post-game...

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock Deals With The Pressure Of Winning

from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

“I really believe that pressure is a privilege,” Hitchcock said. “When people say you’ve got a good team and you should do well, it’s a privilege. I look at it, ‘If there isn’t pressure to play in the playoffs, this is really, really boring,’ and I think I would lose interest. I want that responsibility, so I look at it as a real opportunity and a real privilege.”

When the Blues and Hitchcock picked up the mutual option on his contract for this season May 7, less than two weeks after the club’s first-round playoff exit, it was a decision the coach with the seventh-most wins in NHL history strongly claimed belonged to him.

“I’m at the stage in my career where the decision to go one year at a time is mine — not anybody else’s — Ken Hitchcock’s,” said Hitchcock, who won a Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999 and is one victory short in St. Louis of registering at least 125 regular-season wins with four franchises (Dallas, Philadelphia, Columbus and the Blues).

“The reason for that is, I’ve reached a stage in my career where I don’t want to cheat a franchise. The day I don’t want to learn and get better, the day I don’t want to go back and tweak, the day I just close the books and don’t work at it, I don’t want to be a coach.

read on

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock Chats With Fans And One Former Player

Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues took to Twitter today (the full chat) to answer some questions...

 

Then this zinger...

 

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

One-Year Contract Extension For Ken Hitchcock In St. Louis

(MAY 7, 2014) – St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has extended the contract of Head Coach Ken Hitchcock for the 2014-15 season.  Associate Coach Brad Shaw and Assistant Coach Ray Bennett will return for this upcoming season as well.  In addition, the club announced that Assistant Coach Gary Agnew and Goaltending Coach Corey Hirsch will not rejoin the team. A search to round-out the coaching staff will begin immediately, and the club will have no further comment until replacements are named. 

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Afternoon Lines

via Wes Walz tweets,

listening to self proclaimed "hockey experts" call MIke Rupp a goon is wrong! MR never susp EVER and has been honest player his whole career

Tough play with Osh last night,love him as a player BUT don't forget 2 weeks ago when Blues wanted to "send a message" to Wild #livebysword

Moral of the story....play hard ALWAYS and be a TOUGH team to play against but do so....quietly. #headsupwhenheadingintoforest

via Jeremy Rutherford tweets,

Hitch: “The comments by Wes Walz, knowing the (Wild) coaching staff the way I do, I don’t believe they would condone those comments.

Hitch cont'd: "... and quite frankly with a player getting hurt like that, they’re just disgusting."

If you missed the hit from Rupp on Oshie, watch it here...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock, wes+walz

Afternoon Line

Listen, do me a favor, tell Patrick (Roy) he can talk to you Adrian (Dater).  Don't come in here and comment on him. So I've done my commenting on him. He can say whatever he wants. He always has something to say after every game, so...

-Ken Hitchcock, coach of the St. Louis Blues during his post-game conference which I watched.

Patrick Roy made a few post-game comments, here is one...

 

added 5:48pm,

 

added 8:26pm, Watch the Hitchock conference below...

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Morning Line

“We were poor right across the board. Poor with our discipline. Our top players took poor penalties, poor in every aspect of our game.

“It’s disappointing. We’re going to have to regroup. This is on everybody. It’s on me, it’s on the players ... it’s a total team loss. It’s just disappointing to put in an effort like (Monday) and to come back and play like we did today.”

-Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues after losing to the Devils 7-1.  More on the game from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock - The Quote Machine

from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,

“Great takes time. Great happens probably in four or five years. We went into a rebuilding stage in St. Louis five years ago and we’re in year four. The slogan was ‘come grow with us.’ Now the attitude in St. Louis is ‘when the hell are you guys going to win a Cup?’ The attitude the media has with us is right now that we’re finished growing with you but now you guys have to start producing.”

Calgary fans dreaming of that day know it’s likely at least four years away given how bare the cupboards have been here for years.

Having coached three generations of players the longtime Team Canada assistant said the mindset of players has devolved since the 80’s and 90’s when players did what they were told, no questions asked.

“Then they went to ‘I’ll do what I’m told but where will it take me?’” explained Hitchcock, who guided Dallas to the Stanley Cup in 1999.

“Now it’s ‘I’ll do what I’m told, where will it take me and what’s in it for me? How quick can I get up that ladder.’”

more including some advice for Calgary fans...

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

“Not Good Enough”

Ken Hitchcock with his assessment of the series with the Kings.

Hitchcock starts talking at the :40 second mark.

 

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Evening Line

“Corners come up quick. You round the net and feel like you’re in the corner. It’s just a rounded building. There’s the same surface, but the configuration here for me makes it a different feel. A different feel for the on-ice players, a different feel for the coaches, so things happen a lot quicker in this building and you’ve just got to be ready for it.”

“I’ve said that for years in this building. It’s an interesting building. Some of the buildings are more rectangular in the corners, the rinks, and these are rounded….They round off quick. Both teams are built for this type of surface, so it should be a good game here.”

-Ken Hitchcock, coach of the St. Louis Blues on the Staple Center.  More from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider.

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Afternoon Line

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Morning Line

“This is the home stand from hell.  We lost our goalie, we didn’t play as well and now we’ve got to take this onto the road and we’ve got to be much more accountable to each other.”

-St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock after losing 4-1 to the LA Kings last night.  More on the Blues from Dan O'Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Evening Line

"Us older guys who have been around a while, we recognize what the game has given us, which is a heck of a living and heck of a life. There comes a time when you’re afraid for the game. The thing that is unique about hockey players is that they’re like the kid next door. They play the game for the right reason. They put everything on the line for two months to compete for the Cup when their salaries are finished. They compete for the right reasons. You never want to destroy that. It’s unique to our sport. Every spring is about that charm. We don’t ever want to see that get lost. That’s the fear about reading about a lockout every day, that becomes more dominant than the reasons why the boys really play hockey. Now we have to earn it all back."

-Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues.  More from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN in an article titled, Lockout damage will take a long time to fix.

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Blues Extend The Contract Of Ken Hitchcock

(ST. LOUIS) – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the club has signed Head Coach Ken Hitchcock through the 2013-14 season. Contract has an option for 2014-15 season that will be jointly decided on.

“Ken came in and immediately steadied our group and was able to get each one of our players to elevate their game,” said Armstrong. “He still has the passion and drive to be a Head Coach in this league and is committed to taking this team to the next level.”

“I feel like we are putting together a quality program here,” said Hitchcock. “We had a good year finishing where we did in the standings (tied for 2nd in NHL with 109 points) but this club is not satisfied with our ending and firmly believes we have great things to come.”

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Blues Now Know What It Takes To Win

from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

Last week, I sat down with Hitch and talked to him about the Blues’ playoff loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the need for a playmaker at center, Chris Stewart and potential line combinations. Here are some highlights from the interview…

Hitchcock said that watching the LA Kings go on to win the Stanley Cup didn’t take away any of the sting in losing to the Kings in the second round. But it did help the Blues realize the level they need to reach. “Every player that I’ve talked to feels that there’s another gear in us, and we can get to that gear now that we have that experience,” Hitchcock said. “I think what really showed in the playoffs was that we were inexperienced at the level of commitment necessary to win against a really good team. The temperature of the games went up and we hadn’t been involved in anything like that before. It was like ‘on-the-job training.’ Now we know what it’s like and our players won’t be surprised by it.”

read on

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock’s :37 Second Post-Game Press Conference

One statement from Ken Hitchcock after the Blues lost to the Coyotes 4-1 tonight, their 4th loss in a row.

Listen to the conference...

added 11:54pm, from Norm Sanders of the News-Democrat,

“There’s no more talking now,” Backes said. “We’re at Game 82 tomorrow, let’s go out there and do what we know we have to do. Either we commit to this team game the way we have to be successful, or we’re going to be talking like this in more scrums.

“We’ve got one game tomorrow to wrap it up and then we’re playing for keeps with a clean slate in the playoffs.”

Backes was asked if the Blues’ clinching a playoff spot so early took a bit of steam from the team’s stretch run. Another question centered around sending a message Friday to the Coyotes, a potential playoff opponent.

“If there was, we didn’t send it very well,” Backes said. “I think the message was sent that they have life if they’re playing us and we need to reestablish our dominance.

more

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Hitchcock Adjusts To The Current NHL Player

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.

more

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Hitchcock Wants The Red Line Back Too

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

St. Louis Blues coach Hitchcock won’t be at the general managers’ meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., this week discussing rule changes, but he has coached with and without a red line through his 1,097 games and he’d like it back in.

“With a red line it forces more of a puck-control game through the neutral zone, rather than a dumpand-chase game,” said Hitchcock. “There’s no puck-possession now, but a red line would bring back the playmaking centre. The centre who buys space and time would be back. Those nifty guys we saw before, they’re not around much anymore.”

Hitchcock concedes the old days with a red-line often slowed the game down because they allowed clutching and grabbing. It became a plodding affair. “As long as they keep the standards up (no lassoing), it’ll be fine. It’s always hard changing the rules back, but I think the red line would work,” said Hitchcock.

more plus other NHL notes…

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Hitchcock Discusses His Coaching Style

from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,

It’s the ’99 Dallas Stars all over again, only they’ve moved to Missouri.

Hitch in St. Louis, Darryl Sutter in L.A., throw in Phoenix’s Dave Tippett for good measure ... they’re dragging hockey back to the dead-puck era. Suffocating defence, unadventurous offence, happy to win 1-0.

Only one problem, Hitchcock said Thursday. It’s just not true.

Not these Blues. Not on purpose.

“It’s really ill-informed,” said the affable elder statesman—how is that possible?—among National Hockey League coaches, who somehow got to be 60 years old while we weren’t looking.

“To me, when I hear that comment, that tells me people don’t watch the game. If people bitch about this, then they should bitch about the Olympic team because it’s the same terminology, the same philosophy, the same set of buzzwords.”

read on

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Blues Fire Payne, Hire Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced tonight the club has relieved Davis Payne as Head Coach and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock will be the 24th Head Coach in franchise history and has agreed to a contract through the 2012-13 season. Armstrong and Hitchcock will be available to the media Monday at 10:30 am at Scottrade Center and the team will hold their first practice under Hitchcock at 1:00 pm. The team will have no further comment until tomorrow morning.

Hitchcock, 59, has coached 1,042 National Hockey League games with Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus, compiling a record of 534-350-88-70 for a .588 winning percentage. His teams have won 40 or more games nine times and was Head Coach of Dallas when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999. He has guided his teams to six division titles and eclipsed 100 points eight times. Hitchcock coached in three consecutive NHL All-Star games (1998, 1999, 2000) and was Assistant Coach for Team Canada when they won Gold in the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics

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Hitchcock Ready to Return to the NHL

From the Canadian Press via TSN:

Ken Hitchcock is ready to step behind a NHL bench again.

Despite the disappointment of seeing his Canadian team sent home from the IIHF World Hockey Championship with a quarter-final loss to Russia, the veteran coach proved something to himself during the tournament.

“For me it’s all about building teams,” Hitchcock said after Canada’s 2-1 loss to Russia on Thursday night. “If I get the chance I’m very confident now that I can build a good team. If this group can buy in this quick, then you give me two or three months with a decent hockey club ...

“If you’re willing to buy in, this thing works.”

Five NHL teams are currently without a head coach and Hitchcock is one of the biggest names available.

continued…

*previously on KK: “Hitchcock a Target for Devils Coaching Position

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Hitchcock A Target For The Devils Coaching Position

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

So the name this time, the coach several sources have told Slap Shots that Lou Lamoriello intends to hire this summer, is Ken Hitchcock.

And that makes perfect sense because the Devils general manager, who in the previous six summers since the lockout hired Larry Robinson, Claude Julien, Brent Sutter, Jacques Lemaire and John MacLean, has to go for the safe pick this time, has to go for a coach who will grab every one of his players’ attention and command every one of his players’ respect the moment he walks in the room the first day of training camp.

continued

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How To Handle Hitchcock

from Jason Botchford of The White Towel,

When old Blue Jacket teammates Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres think back to their days in Ohio, it’s not to reflect on the Columbus night life.

“We find ourselves talking about Hitch a lot,” Torres said. “Manny has big time Hitchcock impersonations.”

Ken Hitchcock may be gone, but he is not easily forgotten even if Torres only played for him for a year and a half.

He had some interesting — uh, old school ways — of motivating.

“When I first got there, Hitch was riding me on the bench,” Torres said. “I had just got there.  “Manny says to me ‘You got to give it back to him. He wants you to get into a confrontation with him.’”

continued

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Hitchcock In the Shadows

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

The NHL season stretches for 1,230 games over six months, and the landscape of the league is constantly shifting in fits and starts, sometimes dramatically. Upon this first day of a new month, here is a look at the initial time-lapse photographs of 2010-11. The first snapshot includes Ken Hitchcock.

Hitchcock has been wending through western Canada, putting his eyeballs on assorted NHL and major- and minor-junior teams. He has also been catching up on his reading, focusing on the game and its place in Canadian culture and poring through the work of hockey/cultural writers such as Ken Dryden, James Duthie and Roy MacGregor.

“I’ve spent so much time in the U.S. over the past two decades,” Hitchcock said, “I needed to catch up on being Canadian.”

On one hand, the Blue Jackets’ deposed coach and erstwhile scout appears only on the periphery of the first snapshots of the season. But he is edging toward front and center. A number of teams - New Jersey, Ottawa, Anaheim and Buffalo, among others - broke slowly in October. There are rumblings of coaches who might have to worry about job security. As soon as something opens, Hitchcock will be mentioned as a potential candidate. Already, his name has floated over Minnesota.

continued

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Hitchcock Named Special Advisor In Columbus

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson announced today that Ken Hitchcock has been named a special advisor to the organization. 

In his new role, Hitchcock will assist in the evaluation of the organization’s personnel playing major junior hockey in the Canadian Hockey League and the collegiate ranks.  He also will work with the coaching staff of the Springfield Falcons, the club’s American Hockey affiliate, and evaluate Blue Jackets prospects playing there, as well as scout NHL and AHL games.

Hitchcock served as the Blue Jackets’ head coach from Nov. 22, 2006 to Feb. 3, 2010 and led the club to a 125-123-36 record in 284 games.  In 1,041 career games with the Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars, he compiled a record of 533-372-136.

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A Surpise Guest At Wings Camp

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,

Figuring that there’s no such thing as too much hockey knowledge, coach Mike Babcock gladly said yes when Ken Hitchcock called and asked whether he could come to Detroit Red Wings training camp.

Hitchcock, whose NHL head coaching experience includes stints in Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus, was at Centre Ice Arena today and will remain here through Tuesday’s scrimmage in what can best be described as a symbiotic relationship.

“Hitch phoned me and said, ‘I want to learn, can I come to your camp?,’” Babcock said. “I phoned Kenny Holland and said, ‘He wants to learn, but I want to learn, too—can he come to our camp?’ It’s more to deal with the coaches—talk to our coaches, talk to me. I’ve worked with him. Evaluate me, evaluate the coaches—what can we do better?”

continued

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Hitchcock Still Under Contract With Columbus

from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,

The best chance for Hitchcock to be hired as a coach now - even he admits this - is during the 2010-11 season, when, inevitably, an NHL team fires its coach after a slow start.

But the Blue Jackets won’t wait that long. Priest and Howson have had general discussions about Hitchcock in recent weeks, and they plan to begin hammering out details of his new job when Hitchcock returns to Columbus late this week.

It’s a matter they want settled before training camp opens Sept. 17, Howson said. Many are treading lightly on the subject.

“As long as he’s under contract with us, we’ll find something for him to do that brings value to our organization,” Priest said.

But nobody’s quite sure what that will entail, though there are at least a handful of possibilities.

“I’ll wait for Mike or Scott to come tell me,” Hitchcock said. “I have my own plans of what I would like to do, but I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes or be in the way.”

more

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Hitchcock Gets Back In The Coaching Line

from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,

Just prior to the start of the 2010 Olympics, Hitchcock was dumped by the Columbus Blue Jackets and replaced by assistant Claude Noel. But with no immediate offers elsewhere in the NHL, Hitchcock may return to the Blue Jackets as a senior advisor, a potentially good move for both sides since Hitchcock is still under contract to Columbus for two more years.

“I’ll move to the back of the bus and I’ll wait my turn (for a coaching position),” Hitchcock said. “Columbus has offered me a senior advisor position and I don’t even know what it is yet.”

more

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Nothing Beats Winning The Cup

from Todd Davis of the Dallas Morning News,

Ken Hitchcock, the Stanley Cup-winning coach of the Dallas Stars for seven seasons, spoke with Mike Rhyner and Corby Davidson of The Ticket’s Hardline after his stint as an assistant with Team Canada during the Olympics.

He was asked how winning the gold medal compares to a Stanley Cup.

“I’ve said this from Day 1, nothing compares to the Stanley Cup. This is a great award for the country; it’s a great award for Canada, but nothing compares to the Stanley Cup.

continued

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  Tags: ken+hitchcock, team+canada

Do You Want Hitchcock As Your Coach?

from James O’Brien of Cycle Like The Sedins,

I think Hitchcock was the easy scapegoat as is often the case in the NHL. Horrible GMs such as Glen Sather and Don Waddell keep polluting the on-ice product while competent coaches get canned. However I feel about the decision, the plain truth is that both Hitch and I have one thing in common at the moment: unemployment.

With that in mind, these are the teams that I believe would benefit greatly (and could realistically make a move) to add Hitchcock.

Edmonton

The Oilers are another team that is an absolute mess. Still, there are traces of talent here and there; players like Ales Hemsky, Lubomir Visnovsky and (who would have thought?) Dustin Penner can play.

Edmonton might bring in Hitch, however, to do an about-face. Bland, defense-first hockey might not leave people engaged but it is the best way to win in small markets.

Some might say that the Oilers lack the appropriate roster to maximize Hitch’s coaching abilities, but let’s face it: bad teams tend to lack the appropriate talent for anyone. That’s why they dwell in cellars.

more teams…

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Hitchcock Fired

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved Head Coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named Assistant Coach Claude Noel as the club’s interim head coach, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today. 

Noel, 54, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach on June 28, 2007 after spending four seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals.  During that time, he led the club to a 183-94-12-31 regular season record, three 100-point seasons and two West Division titles.  He also compiled a 33-21 record in the Calder Cup Playoffs, including two appearances in the Finals (2004, 2006).  During the 2003-04 season, the club compiled a 46-24-7-3 record and went 16-6 in the playoffs en route to capturing the organization’s first Calder Cup championship.  That year, Noel was named the AHL’s Coach of the Year.

“This season has been very disappointing for the Blue Jackets organization and our fans and the responsibility for that rests with all of us from management to the coaches and players,” said Howson.  “Hitch worked tirelessly to build an identity for this team that was missing before he arrived and deserves a great deal of credit for those efforts.  He earned and received the opportunity to turn things around this season, but unfortunately that has not happened and it has become apparent that change is in the best interest of our organization.  Claude Noel is a good hockey coach with a proven track record in the American Hockey League.  He knows our team and is deserving of this opportunity.”

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Hitchcock Adjusts

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

Hitchcock, the born salesman, thought hard about what his old boss was telling him. What was Hitchcock selling that the players weren’t buying? What could he find out about the players’ wants and needs? How could he get them back on a path to reaching their potential? Is there a different way?

Hitchcock bought a notebook and started jotting things down at night. He tends to make personalized notes to himself about each player. What is his personality, interests, needs? How can he get more out of the player? The group?

“The adjustment I have to make as a coach is to the personality of the team, which changes every year,” Hitchcock said. “And there are times when less is more.”

That is the nut of the epiphany. Hitchcock figures out he has to dial back, whether he is dealing with individuals or the team. He got to be the 11th-winningest coach in the 92-year history of the NHL by attending to the finest of details and demanding rigorous attention. Sometimes, less is more.

more

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No Need To Fire Hitchcock

from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,

Here’s the future I see every time I read a “Fire Hitchcock” post on the Internet:

Hitchcock is fired, and two weeks later he is hired by a struggling big-market team that can’t believe its good fortune. That teams surges, and a few months from now he has it in the playoffs, and winning. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets are sitting at home and the angry Internet posts are about losing Hitchcock and general manager Scott Howson doing something with the flawed roster.

And what of Hitchcock’s successor? It’s hard to believe team owners are going to pay big bucks to another coach with Hitchcock’s credentials, or find one willing to come here, so the new coach would likely be an unproven guy who might be good and to whom some of the players might relate better. But six months or a year from now, would the Blue Jackets really be better off with him than they would have been with Hitchcock?

The unhappiness over the Jackets’ prolonged funk is understandable. But the big picture is more important than what happened in Vancouver on Tuesday or in Edmonton last night. At this point in this lost season, it’s not about where the team is next month, but where it is next year and beyond.

more

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Watching Hitchcock

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

The problem, when a coaching death watch begins, is that they often become self-fulfilling. The players start to hear rumblings about a possible change and it creeps into their collective psyche. They wonder about its implications, good and bad, for them as individuals. They stop playing on instinct; hesitation sets in.

Pretty soon, everybody is standing around, waiting for the other shoe to drop – and the frustrated general manager is there, watching the whole thing unfold, ready to tear out his hair because he doesn’t want to make a coaching change, but knows he may have to.

That, in a nutshell, is pretty much where the Columbus Blue Jackets stand at this moment, on the heels of a 7-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night, the first of three games in Western Canada that continues Thursday night in Edmonton.

continued

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Is Hitchcock Next?

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

From the press box in Nationwide, Dispatch beat writer Aaron Portzline text-messaged general manager Scott Howson, who was in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, scouting the world junior championship. Portzline asked whether the firing of Murray gave Jackets management pause to reflect on Hitchcock’s job safety. Portzline phrased the question differently, but that was the gist.

Howson’s answer: “The decision in St. Louis is not relevant in Columbus.”

The Blues aren’t running the Jackets, and vice versa. The Jackets will handle their own coach as they see fit. Understood.

But the question, in some form, will not go away—not when the team is losing at this rate. Would Hitchcock still have his job if he started the season 1-13? Is there anywhere else in the league where a coach can survive a 3-13-7 streak? Would anyone be shocked if Hitchcock got the boot tomorrow?

read on

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