Hitch wants Seguin thinking, playing like a No. 1 center


Introductory pressers are supposed to be about photo ops, congratulations and generic quotes. Those at the podium can easily deflect talk of specifics with “we’re still in an evaluation period,” and “it’s early, but we’ll look into it.”

But that’s just not Ken Hitchcock’s style.

Shortly after being introduced as Dallas’ new head coach on Thursday — his second tour of duty in Texas — Hitchcock jumped straight into specific improvements he wanted to make with the hockey club.

Including a big one for Tyler Seguin.

“I’ve got to get Tyler to start thinking like a [No. 1 center],'” Hitchcock said, per the Morning-News. “That means he has to be out there in critical spaces all of the time. He has to kill penalties, he has to play against the other team’s top players.

“He has to be out there at the start of games, he has to be out there at the end of games. That’s what a ‘1’ does.”

Seguin spent considerable time this season at right wing. Former head coach Lindy Ruff opted to give Cody Eakin significant minutes a top-line center — largely because of Eakin’s defensive prowess — forcing Seguin to the outside as a result.

Offensively speaking, there’s never been any question about Seguin’s capabilities down the middle. He’s had at least 40 assists in each of his four years in Dallas, but there have been concerns about his defensive side of the game. And Hitch’s comment about penalty killing is quite interesting, because Seguin played a grand total of 2:09 shorthanded this season.

You read that right. He didn’t average 2:09. He killed penalties for two minutes and nine seconds, total, over 82 games.

So this proposed transformation will be major one. How does Seguin feel about the challenge?

“I’m giddy,” he said. “Since I’ve come to Dallas, I’ve wanted to be a No. 1 centerman. I know he’s going to be hard on me, but I want to make this work.”