Author: Jason Brough

Ken Hitchcock

Hitch needs ‘time to reflect’ before making decision on future


Two days after the St. Louis Blues bowed out of the playoffs, yet again in the first round, head coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t sure if he’d be back behind the bench next season.

“I need time to reflect,” Hitchcock said, per KMOV’s Andrew Allsman. “I feel like I’ve let people down.”

Hitchcock does not have a contract for next season. And despite what GM Doug Armstrong said in October — that it’s “up to the players to get the job done,” i.e. the coach isn’t the problem — it’s possible we could see a situation, like we saw in San Jose, where there’s a mutual parting of ways.

To be sure, if Hitchcock were to move on from St. Louis and wanted to keep coaching, he’d be an interesting candidate in a place like Edmonton.

“He’s hard on us, but he does it because he knows the right way and how to get to this position,” said Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, per “You can never take that away from the way he coaches. He coaches fundamentals. It’s something we needed and we were able to get here because of him.”

Let’s face it — if there’s one team in the NHL that could use a fundamentals-based coach, it’s the Oilers.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

“We’re not naive to the fact that we let our fans down with our postseason play,” said Armstrong. “We need to find a way to address and overcome.”

Easier said than done.

Related: Blues owner ‘disappointed and frustrated,’ but not ready to ‘throw people under the bus’

Rutherford admits mistakes, but has support of Penguins ownership

Mike Johnston Press Conference

You may question some of his moves, but you can’t say he lacks candor.

Penguins GM Jim Rutherford met with reporters today in Pittsburgh, and proceeded to:

Admit the club erred in the development of Beau Bennett, that the player should have spent more time in the AHL.
Express regret for trading young defenseman Simon Despres for veteran defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
Concede he could have handled an interaction with a certain member of the media better.

Those were the mistakes for which he held himself accountable.

But Rutherford also said:

— He has the full support of ownership to make the changes he sees fit, which may include buyouts. (Rob Scuderi?)
— He will look to add a top-six winger, most likely through a trade, given the dearth of options in free agency.
— The head coach he hired, Mike Johnston, did a good job, and the players said so.

Anyway, it should be a very interesting offseason in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have a number of pending unrestricted free agents, including Paul Martin, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Downie and Thomas Greiss.

It could also be a challenging one for Rutherford. If he wants to add a top-six winger through a trade, what, exactly, could he offer in return? He already traded his first-round pick to get David Perron, and it’s not like the Penguins are blessed with an overabundance of prospects.

Besides, they need to develop their prized youngsters, not trade them away for short-term fixes. (You know, like they traded away Després.)

Related: Friedman says Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin

Weber has ‘medical procedure’ for ‘subluxed kneecap’

Shea Weber

Shea Weber suffered a “subluxed kneecap” during Game 2 of Nashville’s first-round series versus the Blackhawks, the Predators announced today.

Weber underwent an unspecified “medical procedure” and is expected to make a full recovery within 4-6 weeks, the club said.

Today’s update follows last week’s announcement that Weber “did not suffer an ACL injury,” despite reports to the contrary.

Despite ‘step in the right direction,’ do Canucks need to alter core?

Phoenix Coyotes v Vancouver Canucks

Should the Canucks stick with the same core of veterans that hasn’t been past the first round of the playoffs since nearly winning the Stanley Cup in 2011?

That was the big question today in Vancouver, as said core was grilled by reporters following a six-game loss to Calgary.

“When you don’t win, everything’s probably up for questioning,” said veteran defenseman Dan Hamhuis, who, like d-man Kevin Bieksa, has one year left on his contract before he can become an unrestricted free agent.

“It seems to be a popular question we keep getting all the time. I think our core’s been good. It’s a solid group of guys. I still think there’s lots of years ahead of us.”

Hamhuis, 32, and Bieksa, 33, were each asked if they’d be willing to waive their no-trade clauses.

Hamhuis, appearing somewhat taken aback by the question, replied, “That’s not something I’ve ever really thought of. I’m not really prepared to give an answer on that. That’s something I’ll think about if that were to happen, but probably more something to talk with [general manager Jim Benning] about.”

Bieksa said the same went for him: “I’ve never had to cross that bridge before, haven’t heard it brought up by anybody in the organization. I know you guys are poking around; that’s your job.”

Benning will face the media on Wednesday, and will likely say many of the same things that the players did today — that the Canucks still have a solid core, but like any team, they need younger players to keep stepping up, like rookie Bo Horvat did this year.

“You always need young players to come in and surprise,” said winger Chris Higgins. “Next year, who knows who’s going to be the young guy to show up in camp and have a great camp and make an impact on this team? You look at every team that’s successful; they have young guys that come in and surprise every year. This team’s looking for guys like that as well.”

As for the Sedins, who turn 35 in September, they still anticipate having a big role for years to come.

“We have no plans of getting any worse,” said Henrik Sedin. “We’re not young anymore, but I think we showed this year that we can still be a big part, and we can be productive, and we can play well. I don’t see that changing in the next couple of years. With the young guys coming up, it looks good for this organization.

“I haven’t planned to get any worse, as a team. I think our focus is to make the playoffs each and every year and giving ourselves a chance to win.”

The Canucks do have some intriguing forward prospects in the likes of Sven Baertschi, Jake Virtanen, Cole Cassels, Jared McCann, plus a handful of others. At least one or two should be able to push for a spot next season, without rushing those that need more time to develop in the minors.

But it was the defense group that came under the most fire in the playoffs, with turnovers becoming a major factor against an aggressive Flames’ forecheck.

Everyone knows that a team that can’t move the puck out of its own end is a team with little of hope of success in the NHL.

The conundrum for management is that the Canucks do not have a blue-chip defensive prospect waiting in the wings. In fact, Vancouver hasn’t drafted a d-man in the first round in over a decade. That 25-year-old Luca Sbisa was given a three-year commitment at a cap hit of $3.6 million was testament to the club’s lack of young options on the back end (Adam Clendening and Frank Corrado are the most NHL-ready.)

Certainly, the blue line is an area that Benning will need to address if the Canucks are going to build on what was actually a surprisingly successful season, save for the playoff disappointment.

“I think we took a step in the right direction this year,” said Henrik Sedin. “It’s a small step, but a good step in the right direction.”

Report: Developers file intent to build arena in Seattle suburb


From ESPN’s Craig Custance, who’s been closely covering the Seattle arena situation:

A new path to bring an arena — and potentially the NHL — to the Seattle area is opening.

RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment filed a code interpretation request Wednesday with the City of Tukwila, stating its intention to build a multi-purpose arena, a source told …

If progress continues, the early target date to open the privately funded arena in Tukwila, a city just south of Seattle, is the fall of 2017.

RLB Holdings is headed up by Ray Bartoszek, the former energy trader who was reportedly close to moving the Coyotes to Seattle.

We first wrote about the Tukwila alternative in February. Apparently, this is a different parcel of land than the one owned by businessman David Sabey, who had doubts that an arena was the “highest and best use” for his property.

The NHL has made it no secret that it’s interested in placing a team in the Seattle area. The missing piece has always been an arena.

Tukwila mayor Jim Haggerton has bragged about his city’s ability to get big projects done quickly.

“I think I can make a safe statement that this city could do any major project as fast or faster than anybody else,” he told “We have a track record of doing that.”

We may see now if that boast holds true.