Tag: Kevin Shattenkirk

Chicago Blackhawks v St Louis Blues

Report: Blues will stick with Hitchcock ‘barring anything dramatic’


The St. Louis Blues suffered another crushing playoff letdown in 2014-15, fueling speculation that they might make a big change behind the bench. It sounds like they’ll stick with head coach Ken Hitchcock, after all, however.

That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, who said that Hitchcock will remain Blues head coach “barring anything dramatic” during the final moments of this Saturday Headlines segment.

It’s unclear what sort of things would qualify as “dramatic,” although recent stories indicate that both sides were going through some soul searching (rather than the Blues merely pondering a change). Hitchcock mentioned that he needed time to reflect while the team spoke of a decision-making process still taking place heading into this weekend.

It’s pretty easy to lay out the pros and cons of Hitchcock’s tenure with the Blues.

source: AP
Source: AP


The regular season results have been brilliant. From 2005-06 to 2010-11, St. Louis only made it to the playoffs once (and was summarily swept in 2009). Hitchcock took over during the 2011-12 season, and St. Louis has made the postseason every year he’s been at the helm. In fact, the Blues have won two Central Division titles – no small task – and have finished second or better in his four seasons.

Of course, the success dries up after the final game of each regular season. They’ve only won one playoff series with Hitchcock in charge, even as expectations climbed quite a bit in the past couple seasons.

It would be foolish to pin the blame on Hitchcock alone, yet at 63, it’s understandable if the veteran coach would elect to move on (or for his team to seek a new voice).

On the other hand, it also makes a lot of sense for this to be a last chance season, even if this offseason brings about some big changes.

While there are some big concerns this summer (star winger Vladimir Tarasenko is an RFA and veteran blueliner Barret Jackman is a UFA, among others), some of the Blues’ bargains are on the verge of getting raises.

Jake Allen needs a new contract, while Brian Elliott’s $2.5 million bargain evaporates after 2016-17. Kevin Shattenkirk’s super-cheap at $4.25M, yet that goes away after 2016-17, too. David Backes only has one year left at $4.5M while Jaden Schwartz should expect a big bump from $2.35M after 2015-16.

Long story short, it makes sense for the Blues to take a measured approach with Hitchcock … but they’ll expect dramatic results if he returns in 2015-16.

Blues have ‘no answer’ about re-signing Jackman

Barret Jackman

Barret Jackman wants to keep playing hockey, and wants to do it in St. Louis.

That much is known.

What isn’t known, though, is if the Blues want to bring back their current longest-tenured player, who sits No. 2 among the franchise leaders in games played.

“We’ve got to look at the cap and we’ve got to look at the role that he wants on the team,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said of Jackman, per the Post-Dispatch. “Then I’ve got to find out the role the team has for him.

“So there’s no answer to that right now.”

Jackman, 34, is in the last of a three-year, $9.5 million deal with St. Louis, where he has has spent his entire 14-year career. Though he’s never blossomed into the star many projected upon winning the Calder in 2003, Jackman’s had a very solid run as a durable, physical and shutdown defenseman that blocks plenty of shots (finishing second on the team this year.)

He also knows he wants to keep playing not just next year, but beyond.

“I have lots left in me,” he said. “I don’t know, four-five years, year-to-year. The body’s the best it’s felt in years. I’ll continue to keep playing.”

The issue, of course, is that the Blues have big money already tied up in their defense with the Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk contracts. There are cheaper options for bottom-pairing guys, and the club will need to free up some money this summer to ink Vladimir Tarasenko to an extension.

Jackman knows all this, and the reality of his situation.

“I don’t think my play’s dropped off year after year,” he explained. |I still feel like I help the team. With the cap issues and things like that.

“It’s going to be up to (Blues general manager Doug Armstrong) and coaches to see if I fit in.”

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

Ken Hitchcock

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 NHL.com. “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’