Hitchcock Wins Jack Adams Award

Award, Hitchcock's first, is given annually to the NHL Coach of the Year

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 5:40 PM CT / St Louis Blues - News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com
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Hitchcock Wins Jack Adams Award
LAS VEGAS -- He's a Civil War buff, a history buff, and now a first-time winner of the Jack Adams Award at 60 years old.

However, Ken Hitchcock got to the stage at the Encore Theater on Wednesday to collect his first coach of the year award in a NHL career that dates back 17 years because he forgot about history and his age to instead dedicated himself to becoming more in tune and current with today's youth.

Without intensely studying the ins and outs and intricacies of Generation Y, Hitchcock isn't so sure he would have been able to relate to the St. Louis Blues, a team that has an average age of 27.2. If he couldn't relate, there's no way the Blues would have gone 43-15-11 under Hitchcock after he took over for Davis Payne on Nov. 6.

"I know the Xs and Os, but I study people. I pride myself in studying people," Hitchcock said at the 2012 NHL Awards show at the Wynn Las Vegas. "I've worked hard at my craft. I just don't go into coach's clinics and look at Xs and Os and power play and penalty killing. I go to millennial seminars for kids. I talk to junior coaches all the time and get updated on when the changes are there. I talk to military people who have cadets going through the same issues that our kids are. I study people and I pride myself in staying current."

Hitchcock went on to say that he likes the music that today's young people listen to. He said he watches Paladia TV, a high definition channel showcasing the best music of today's generation, for four to five hours a day.

"The players laugh like crazy," Hitchcock said, "but I love that channel."

Of course, the perception of Hitchcock when he was fired by Columbus late in the 2009-10 season is that he was old school and couldn't relate to today's youth. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, whose relationship with Hitchcock dates back to their days in Dallas during the mid-to-late 1990s, found out during his research of Hitchcock that the perception of the coach was about as far from reality as possible.

Hitchcock made the new reality happen.

"You start to scratch on the surface and I found what he was doing when he wasn't coaching," Armstrong said. "He didn't go into the media. He didn't just sit back and wait for a job. He was out there coaching youth hockey, spending time in the American Hockey League, doing clinics all across Canada. I think he got energized to get back in the game and he was also current, much more current than I am with the Twitter world and all those other things. He'll say he's not, but I know he knows how to stay current with that."

Hitchcock does because he finds it is the best way to relate to today's player. He has to sell his product to them and then they have to buy in.

That's not always that easy anymore.

"More than anything I'm fascinated by this age group because Generation Y, the big thing is why. They ask that question everyday," Hitchcock said. "They just don't do what they're told or do what they want, they want to know why. This generation is making us as coaches more accountable than we've ever been in our life. And, if they don't buy what we're selling than they're not going to go and play for you."

So why did the Blues buy what Hitchcock was selling, so much so that they set all kinds of franchise records and picked up 49 wins and 109 points?

"The success we had in the first week," Hitchcock said.

In Hitchcock's first week as coach the Blues collected seven of eight points with wins over Chicago, Detroit and Tampa Bay along with a shootout loss to Toronto.

"If we didn't have that success I think we would have had a battle all year, but we were great right out of the gate and everybody found this way to play," Hitchcock said.

"It was easy to buy in after the first game we played, to beat Chicago," added St. Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak, who along with Brian Elliott collected the William M. Jennings Trophy on Wednesday. "It's easy when you win the first game to buy in."

The system that Hitchcock calls "volume offensive hockey" due to the amount of time they try to spend in the offensive zone worked until they ran into the Kings in the Western Conference Semifinals. L.A. swept the Blues en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

"The only time we got stung all year is when L.A. made us spend time in our end zone, more time than we had been spending," Hitchcock said. "It was the first time the game was 50-50 and we weren't big enough in the back end to control what they did. But, all year long we played volume hockey and it was very successful."

Hitchcock isn't so sure it would have been had he not spent his time away from the NHL studying the generation of players that are currently in the NHL and trying to make it there.

"That's the part of our sport that fascinates me," Hitchcock said. "It's not the winning and losing. I can deal with that. To me it's learning about the composite of the group and understanding what makes certain players tick, understanding that you better be prepared to change. (The players) have changed a lot. You've gotta adapt. I really pride myself on that."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 77 47 22 8 220 188 102
3 STL 76 46 23 7 229 190 99
4 CHI 76 46 24 6 217 176 98
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 76 44 27 5 219 204 93
7 CGY 77 42 28 7 229 204 91
8 WPG 76 39 25 12 215 201 90
9 LAK 76 37 25 14 201 192 88
10 DAL 77 37 30 10 239 248 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 76 35 29 12 206 213 82
13 EDM 76 23 40 13 185 255 59
14 ARI 77 23 46 8 161 256 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
V. Tarasenko 76 36 35 25 71
A. Steen 73 24 38 6 62
J. Schwartz 69 24 32 12 56
D. Backes 75 25 29 6 54
T. Oshie 67 19 33 13 52
P. Stastny 68 14 29 3 43
A. Pietrangelo 76 6 36 -6 42
J. Lehtera 69 11 29 16 40
K. Shattenkirk 51 8 32 15 40
P. Berglund 71 9 13 -7 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 24 14 3 .919 2.20
J. Allen 19 6 4 .906 2.45

 
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