Hitch is back: Stars bring Hitchcock back 15 years later
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 16, 2017,
Apr 16, 2017, 5:12
Ken Hitchcock is officially back as the head coach of the Dallas Stars.
Amid all the possibilities, the only certainty is that next season's Hitchcock-coached Stars will be markedly better than last season's version. He will replace Lindy Ruff, who was sacked after Sunday's season finale. He led the Stars to five straight division titles, with consecutive Western Conference championships in 1999 and 2000. The natural reaction locally was to reflect on huge playoff wins, a Stanley Cup parade, a time when hockey was much higher on the attention meter in Dallas.
Now back in the game after his mid-season termination by the St. Louis Blues after six seasons, Hitchcock likely will step in and immediately challenge the Stars' underachieving roster. The Blues fired him February 1, promoting Mike Yeo to replace him. "He then volunteered that, while he wore the lightweight pads for Stars practices, game pads were a necessity with the Hitchcock-led Blues, because "...we had some pretty rough practices".
"I told our players after Game 2, 'We're not going to beat this team unless we match their energy.' Their energy was through the roof".
Dallas considered former Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant and others for its vacancy but went with the affable Hitchcock, whose recipe for success has worked through several eras of hockey.
"I was so excited and thrilled of his passion and energy that he had to get back to coaching", Nill said. Even before that, St. Louis announced it was Hitchcock's final season there and that Yeo would take over. "I want to be a number one centerman and a two-way guy".
According to Nill, Hitchcock signed a "multi-year" deal and whenever he's done coaching he'll have a consulting contract with the organization. "He's going to help his win, that's the biggest thing", Benn said.
For all the glowing praise he showered on the Stars' players from that 2016 series, Hitchcock added, "Once we matched their energy, I thought our structure could take over and we would break them down'". "He's recharged, he wants to make a difference, and I know he's the right man for the job". "The tough part was [Ruff] never really had his team this year [due to injuries]". Hitchcock has coached 1,454 regular season games and 168 more in the playoffs.
"I know Hitch is hard on players and I know we are going to have a good relationship built here", Seguin said.
In addition to "rough" practices, the new coach brings to the table a stated desire to transform Tyler Seguin from goal-scoring phenom into a complete, no.1 center. I still want to be.