The day after St. Louis was bounced in the opening playoff round for a third straight year, owner Tom Stillman went on local radio to explain that while he’s angry, he won’t make any rash decisions about the future of his club.
“People would probably love to hear me point fingers and blame and throw people under the bus, but for two reasons I don’t think that’s a great idea,” Stillman explained. “First, you should take a careful, deliberate look at what happened — what we did, what we didn’t do — and then make sure we figure out how we don’t do that again, and break through in the playoffs.
“The other reason is a matter of, I guess, leadership. We have an organization that’s going to continue forward, and I’m responsible for making sure that the organization gets it right and is successful. I don’t think it’s helpful if I’m up here and start blaming people and cutting off people’s heads.”
Stillman was asked, but offered no insight to the future of head coach Ken Hitchcock, who’s been at the helm of these recent playoff disappointments. Many have speculated — Hitch included — that his future was tied to getting out of Round 1; the veteran bench boss alluded to as much just prior to the playoffs.
“There’s always going to be a question for players and coaches until we win a first round. But it’s a question I’m not afraid to answer,” Hitchcock told the Post-Dispatch. “I don’t know the answer right now but this team is built to go long in series, long in games. We’ve won a lot of games late. We’ve been at our best in the second and third periods. We know we can go the distance.
“Like everyone else I won’t know until it plays out but I’m looking forward to answering the questions.”
The Blues, it turns out, didn’t “go long.” They were bounced in six games, much like they were last year versus Chicago and the year prior against Los Angeles. It’s these repeated failures that gnaw away at Stillman — which is why in today’s interview he acknowledged 1) his dissatisfaction, and 2) that changes were pretty much inevitable. (“I’m sure there’ll be changes,” was his exact quote.)
“I’m disappointed and frustrated,” Stillman explained. “We came into this season with high expectations — we had a great regular season in winning, by all accounts, the most difficult division in hockey.
“Yet it all came to the same end. It’s a bitter pill to swallow for everybody in our organization.”
Note: Hitchcock will meet the media tomorrow along with GM Doug Armstrong, per a team spokesman.