Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.
That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.
Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:
When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”
“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.
For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.
Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.
That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.
While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.
If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.
The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.
Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.
But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.
“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.
“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”
ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock will decide on the status of injured players after the pre-game skate before Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the San Jose Sharks on Monday night.
Captain David Backes and rookie Robby Fabbri, both forwards, were injured in Game 4. Backes missed the final two periods and Fabbri had just two shifts in the third period of a 6-3 victory that knotted the series at 2-2.
Hitchcock said he’ll have the same number of players dressed for the warmup as in Game 4, when he had two extra forwards and one extra defenseman on the ice.
Sharks coach Peter DeBoer indicated he’d have no lineup changes.
For St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock, talking smack sure beats talking x’s and o’s.
He admitted that he’s really enjoying the give-and-take that he’s undergoing with San Jose Sharks bench boss Peter DeBoer.
“The answer, do I enjoy it, is yes,” Hitchcock said. “Quite frankly, what you guys report, it’s really boring. We got to have some fun, too. I find it fun.”
The veteran head coach admits that he enjoys sending the media on a “wild-goose chase,” especially if it takes heat off of his players.
(Ah yes, it always comes back to strategy for Hitch.)
He repeatedly said that it’s fun … and you know what? It really is. (He also points out that he coached with DeBoer, though the Sharks coach doesn’t believe that it was much more than a “learning experience.”)
Now we really just need the two coaches to start barking at each other over the glass to really drive the point home.
Granted, DeBoer may not feel the same joy for the trash talk.
For more on their back-and-forth, check out this post.
The Western Conference Final between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues has produced some verbal sparring between the coaches Pete DeBoer and Ken Hitchcock.
Throughout this series, tied two games apiece, there have been some interesting comments made from both bench bosses directed at the other.
Example No. 1:
“What we’re relying on is the officials to do their job,” said DeBoer following Game 1. “St. Louis is one of the most penalized teams in the league, regular season and playoffs. (Referees) need to call the game accordingly and we need to make them pay a price for being one of the most penalized teams in the league.”
Hitchcock responded: “We were told not to whine for calls, so we’re not going to whine for calls. If Pete wants to do it, that’s up to him, but we’re not doing it.”
Example No. 2:
Following the Blues’ win in Game 4 on Saturday, Hitchcock spoke about his decision to go with Jake Allen over Brian Elliott in goal, a move that paid off because Allen stopped 31 shots and St. Louis scored six goals for the victory.
“We needed somebody to really help us play better defense. We played with more passion in front of him in our own zone because I made the goalie change,” Hitchcock told reporters.
Asked about any possible adjustments the Blues may have made to their forecheck, DeBoer’s response essentially concluded his media availability.
“I’m sure Hitch will tell you he made all kinds of great adjustments, and every one of them worked tonight. Hats off to him.”
Example No. 3:
DeBoer was, on Sunday, asked a handful of questions about Hitchcock and their experience together coaching for Canada at the 2011 world hockey championship.
DeBoer didn’t get into specifics but did say it was a “great learning experience” working alongside Hitchcock in that tournament. But when asked if the two had any relationship today, the Sharks coach was quick with his answer.
“Who has a relationship in the Stanley Cup semifinals?”
Oh. It’s so on, obviously…