clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Ken Hitchcock’s early goodbye

New, comments

Hitchcock ends his coaching career earlier then expected

St Louis Blues v San Jose Sharks - Game Four Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The St. Louis Blues announced Ken Hitchcock was relieved of his duties as head coach Wednesday. Hitchcock said before the season this would be his last as an NHL head coach. He began his NHL tenure with the Dallas Stars in 1995 and would go on to win the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in the 1998-99 season. Hitchcock returned to the final the next season with the Stars only to lose to Larry Robinson and the New Jersey Devils.

Hitchcock would then go on to coach the Philadelphia Flyers from 2002-2007 where his tenure didn’t go as planned. The farthest he made it was the Eastern Conference Final in the 2003-04 season and lost to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion, the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was fired just 8 games into the 2006 season as the Flyers started 1-6-1.

He was hired by the Columbus Blue Jackets later that season and didn’t make the playoffs with the Jackets until his third year with the team. Columbus was swept in the first round by the Detroit Red Wings. Hitchcock has a history of losing to eventual Stanley Cup Winners and/or runner ups. He coached 58 games in the 2009-2010 season before he was fired.

Finally, in 2011-2012 when the Blues fired Davis Payne after a 6-7-0 start to the season, they hired Ken Hitchcock. He led the Blues to a 43-15-11 record and earned himself the Jack Adams award for coach of the year. The Blues would go on to beat the Sharks in five games before being swept by, yet again, the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. From 2012-2015, the Blues would go on to lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Blackhawks, Kings, and the Wild.

Last season, the Blues exorcised their playoff demons by beating their nemesis, the Blackhawks, in a memorable Game 7 in the first round. They went on to win in seven games in the second round against the Dallas Stars. Eventually, the Blues lost to the Sharks, as I’m sure I don’t need to remind any of you.

With a record of 24-21-5 (53 points) and 4th in the Central, the Blues fired Hitchcock yesterday. This was his final season as a head coach and the Blues are in the thick of a playoff race. Personally, I do not like this decision given his replacement. Yeo led the Wild to the playoffs a couple of times, only to be fired and replaced by John Torchetti last season. Yeo joined the Blues as an Associate coach in the offseason and the plan was for him to replace Hitchcock at the end of this campaign. The Blues look like a complete mess right now, so I can see why a change was made.

Hitchcock ends his career with a 733 wins, fourth all time behind Scotty Bowman, Joel Quenneville and Al Arbour, all pretty good coaches. He is also a Jack Adams award winner and has his name on the Stanley Cup. Say what you want about him, but he will be in the Hall of Fame some day. The NHL will miss Hitchcock.