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Hitchcock Determined to Build a Winner

Monday, 11.7.2011 / 2:31 PM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
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Hitchcock Determined to Build a Winner
ST. LOUIS -- It became quite clear the St. Louis Blues wanted someone experienced to guide a ship that seemed to be veering off-course.

After relieving Davis Payne of his duties on Sunday night, the Blues introduced Ken Hitchcock on Monday as the 24th coach in team history.

The Blues, who enter the week 6-7-0 and in 14th place in the Western Conference, have not gotten off to the start they'd hoped. There was much hype about the Blues making that jump into the upper echelon of the Western Conference teams, but it hasn't worked out that way, and General Manager Doug Armstrong received the blessing from ownership and Team President John Davidson to make a change.

"I felt that where we are at right now, we needed an experienced coach, someone that can guide this younger team to the area that it wants to go to," Armstrong said.

"I just felt that I wanted a certainty of a head coach with a proven track record, a winner, to push these young players and push this organization to the next level. I think it was very important that we didn't wait around."

In parts of 14 seasons as a coach with the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets, Hitchcock has 534 wins, 14th on the all-time list. He led the Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup and back to the Stanley Cup Final the following season. His teams have won 40 or more games nine times, he's won six division titles and eclipsed 100 points eight times. He also was an assistant coach for Team Canada at the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics.

Hitchcock hasn't worked behind a bench since he was removed by the Blue Jackets during the 2009-10 season. Since then, he had been a consultant for the Jackets. His name had been linked to various jobs around the League, and he indicated that he had interviewed with four different NHL teams over the summer, without naming the teams.

Armstrong received permission from the Blue Jackets on Sunday to speak with Hitchcock about the Blues' job, and a deal was agreed to quickly.

Hitchcock signed a contract through the 2012-13 season.

"This happened very quickly for me," Hitchcock said. "It's still a little bit of a whirlwind. I'm still trying to figure out how I got down I-70 (from Columbus) to get here. But I am really proud and excited for the opportunity, and for me, my strength is building teams, building accountability within the framework of teams.

"I'm a big believer in a certain style of game. There are certain teams in the West that play that similar style and I believe and trust it. I've seen it in place, not only in the National Hockey League but in the Olympics, and I've seen how it works. I want to put that program in place."

Hitchcock said being able to watch games for the last year has been helpful in re-energizing him.

"This time away for me has really been a godsend," Hitchcock said. "It's helped me health-wise, it's helped me physically, it's helped me emotionally. I'm energized and I'm excited. If I can get through this press conference without stumbling much, I'd like to get back to the coach's room where I belong and get back to work with the guys back there."

Armstrong said choosing Hitchcock was a no-brainer.

"He's got a great resume, his experience from the Stanley Cup, participating in the Finals, being in the semifinals twice, Olympic champion twice, a World Cup champion, also working for Team Canada as the head coach and silver medalist ... his resume is impeccable, as I said, and we're very excited to have him," Armstrong said. "When you're going through this process, you have to look at all the potential candidates.

"... You never know what's going to happen health-wise or feeling the need to change, so Ken was on that list. I shared names and I shared philosophies with John (Davidson). We talked extensively and we came back to Ken's resume and what he's accomplished."

"I want us to be proud of the way we play the game," Hitchcock added. "I think at the end of the day, I want people in St. Louis to say, 'Man, that team plays the right way.' "

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 77 37 36 27 73
A. Steen 74 24 40 8 64
J. Schwartz 75 28 35 13 63
D. Backes 80 26 32 7 58
T. Oshie 72 19 36 17 55
P. Stastny 74 16 30 5 46
A. Pietrangelo 81 7 39 -2 46
J. Lehtera 75 14 30 21 44
K. Shattenkirk 56 8 36 19 44
P. Berglund 77 12 15 -2 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 26 14 3 .917 2.26
J. Allen 22 7 4 .913 2.28

 
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