This post is part of Stars Day on PHT…
After four years of having Lindy Ruff as their head coach, the Dallas Stars were ready to go in a different direction. Under Ruff, the team failed to make the playoffs twice and they never got passed the second round.
This offseason, they decided to bring back former head coach Ken Hitchcock, who led the franchise to their only Stanley Cup victory back in 1999.
It’s no secret that the Stars have been an offense-first team over the last few years. Things seem to come a little more naturally to them in their opponent’s end than in their own. But Hitchcock is a defense-first coach, so it’ll be interesting to see how he and his players mesh.
Last season, only the Colorado Avalanche (278) gave up more goals than Dallas (262), so it’s entirely possible that Hitchcock will come in and help the team improve their play without the puck, but it’s also possible that he might clash with certain players because of his approach to the game.
Tyler Seguin, for example, can produce offense at an elite level, but his style of play will probably never earn him a Selke Trophy. Can Hitchcock get him to commit to playing a different way? If Seguin is unwilling to play more of a 200-foot game, will that lead to the two of them butting heads?
“I’ve got to work hard in the summer to get Tyler to start thinking like a [number one center],” Hitchcock said in April, per the team’s website. “That means he’s got to be out there in critical spaces all the time. That means he’s got to kill penalties, he’s got to play against the other team’s top players, he’s got to be out there at the start of games, and he’s got to be out there at the end of games. He’s got to take key faceoffs. He’s got to do everything to become a [number one center]. That’s what a [number one] does.”
If Seguin and his teammates are open to changing things up on the ice, maybe this Hitchcock experiment works out in Dallas. But if the players refuse to see eye-to-eye with their new head coach, it could be a long season in Dallas.
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