Ken Hitchcock

Ken Hitchcock on 600th win: ‘It’s basically because I’m old’


Thanks to the St. Louis Blues’ 2-1 shootout victory against the Vancouver Canucks, Ken Hitchcock won the 600th game of his coaching career on Tuesday.

Hitchcock, 61, had a simple and amusing explanation for the milestone (which made him the 11th bench boss in NHL history to reach that mark).

“It’s basically because I’m old,” Hitchcock said. “If you last long and you’re old, you get this.”

Here’s his career record in 1,152 games coached: 600-381-88-83 (88 ties, 83 shootout/OT losses).

Again, he was quick to deflect praise, the next time to his team.

“For me, I’m proud of being able to be a coach in this league, but I’m more proud of the way our team is playing right now,” Hitchcock said. “We’re playing hard.”

Only one other active coach (Chicago’s Joel Quenneville) has more than 600 wins. Hitchcock’s 59.5 career winning percentage only trails Quenneville (61.2 percent) and legend Scotty Bowman (65.7 percent) in NHL history.

Here’s the full list of coaches with at least 600 wins:

Al Arbour
Pat Quinn
Mike Keenan
Dick Irvin
Ron Wilson
Bryan Murray
Jacques Lemaire
Jacques Martin

Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock wins Jack Adams

Ken Hitchcock

Prior to this season, Ken Hitchcock had been nominated for the Jack Adams three times in his career but had never taken home the award.

Turns out the fourth time was a charm.

Hitchcock captured his first-ever coach of the year trophy at the NHL Awards show on Wednesday night, beating out fellow Adams nominees Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators) and John Tortorella (New York Rangers).

The win caps off a truly remarkable season for the NHL’s oldest head coach. Hitchcock, 60, had been out of the NHL since Feb. 2010 before taking over a struggling Blues team that was 6-7-0 and in 14th in the Western Conference.

What transpired after the November takeover was one of the greatest in-season turnarounds in franchise history, as the Blues went 43-15-11 to finish the year atop the Central Division (first win since 1999-2000) and second overall in the Western Conference.

With the win, Hitchcock becomes the fourth coach in St. Louis history to capture the Jack Adams, joining Red Berenson (1981), Brian Sutter (1991) and Joel Quenneville (2000).

Hitchcock reflects

Hitchcock had plenty to say about winning the award, especially when it came to connecting with young players. That meant finding ways to connect with players, which perhaps wasn’t that difficult since Hitchcock said that he enjoys “their music.”

(He wouldn’t name any names, but he raved about watching concerts on the Palladia network. Go ahead, imagine Hitchcock listening to The Arcade Fire now.)

“I pride myself in being current,” Hitchcock said. “More than anything I’m fascinated by this age group because Generation Y, the big thing is ‘why?’ They ask that question every day. They don’t just do what they’re told, they want to know why … this generation is making us as coaches more accountable than we’ve ever been in our life. If they don’t buy what we’re selling, they’re not going to go and play for you.”

Hitchcock did an interesting job putting that Blues team in perspective. Interestingly enough, he said that the best team he ever coached was the 2004 Philadelphia Flyers, not one of the Dallas Stars squads. His best work as a bench boss might surprise some people, too.

“The best job we’ve ever done as a staff was the one in Columbus when we went to the playoffs,” Hitchcock said. “That team over-achieved every day.”

This might have been his first Jack Adams, but you got the feeling that the nod was as much a validation of a great body of work than a singular achievement. Still, Hitchcock gives every indication that we haven’t seen the best of this Blues team – but that might require some of his best work, too.

Ken Hitchcock thinks Drew Doughty is the best player in the series

Drew Doughty

If there’s anything Ken Hitchcock would know a thing or two about it’s how well defenseman are playing. He’s a tough defense-loving coach and after seeing three straight games of the Kings putting his Blues in a headlock, he’s got a good idea who is doing the most damage to his squad.

For Hitchcock, the guy that’s been best so far in the series is Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Hitchcock tells Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times Doughty compares very favorably with his own blue liner in Alex Pietrangelo in how they both handle the game.

“They can absorb a check and lug out the puck out themselves. You can’t find that very often. That’s what he [Doughty] does. You think you’ve got him. He pulls away on you. You think you’ve got him pinned on the boards; he pulls it off the boards and makes the play. Both guys are great at it.”

Doughty has been a physical as well as a play making force against St. Louis and one of many Kings who are making life miserable for the Blues. After scoring a goal and adding two assists in Game 3 it seems as if Doughty is only getting better as the series rolls along. With the Blues a game away from elimination, that doesn’t bode well at all for their future.

Ken Hitchcock has some unorthdox views on playoff re-seeding

Toronto Maple Leafs v St. Louis Blues

From Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:


Full marks to Hitch for pushing the “no, no, WE’RE the underdog” narrative, but this is a stretch.

That said, I do like it when people punctuate something that’s clearly false with “c’mon, everyone knows that” — it’s the ultimate sales job. I once convinced a buddy that Sting used to be in The Rolling Stones using that technique.

Ken Hitchcock says Brian Elliott is “fine to play”

Brian Elliott

If you were thinking that the St. Louis Blues goaltending picture was going to be cleared up thanks to an upper-body injury to Brian Elliott, think again.

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock tells Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that their recall of Jake Allen was just for practice purposes and Elliott would be ready to go.

“We didn’t want to aggravate it,” Hitchcock said. “We’ve been nursing it for a week or so. … It’s more maintenance. It’s not a big deal. … He’s fine to play, so that’s not an issue. He’s nursing something that’s going to take a day or two to be 100 percent.”

Hitchcock also says if the Blues were playing Wednesday and he wanted Elliott to be the starter, he could do it. That just takes us back to square one as to who the Blues will start in goal, an announcement Hitchcock said he would wait until Thursday to make.

Whether he goes with Elliott or Jaroslav Halak, Hitchcock has a wealth of riches to deal with. Elliott has had a tremendous season while Halak’s season has been just as strong and he has the playoff pedigree. It’s not as if he’ll be picking one guy and being forced to stick with him. Should one guy start and not work out, there’s an equally capable goalie waiting in the wings. Nice problem to have.