Ken Hitchcock

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Ken Hitchcock
Ken hitchock2014.jpg
Ken Hitchcock in 2014
Born (1951-12-17) December 17, 1951 (age 64)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Current position Head coach
Current general manager Doug Armstrong
Current team St. Louis Blues
Previous team(s) Dallas Stars
Philadelphia Flyers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Years as a coach 1980s–present
Years as an NHL coach 1996–present
Years with current team 2011–present

Kenneth S. Hitchcock (born December 17, 1951), nicknamed "Hitch" or "the Walrus", is an NHL hockey coach and pro scout, currently coaching the St. Louis Blues. He has also served as head coach of the NHL's Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, and Columbus Blue Jackets. He coached the Stars to a Stanley Cup victory in 1999.

He also served as an assistant coach for the 2014 Canadian Olympic Hockey Team.

Early years[edit]

While growing up playing hockey in western Canada, Hitchcock found he could motivate players. This led him into coaching, first at various levels in the Edmonton area, and later a ten-year stint at the helm of the midget AAA Sherwood Park Chain Gang. Hitchcock led Sherwood Park (an Edmonton suburb) to an outstanding record of 575–69. In his spare time, "Hitch" taught hockey fundamentals to girls at a local hockey school.

Taking a chance, Hitchcock submitted his credentials to the new owners of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, Gary Cooper and Colin Day. Hitchcock assumed his position behind the bench for the 1984–85 season, and had an immediate effect on the Blazers, leading them to four consecutive division titles and two league titles (in 1985–86 and 1989–90). In both of the seasons he guided the Blazers to the league title, Hitchcock was named the WHL Coach of the Year, and he was named the top coach in Canadian major junior hockey in 1990. Hitch's team appeared in the Memorial Cup tournament twice, never advancing beyond the semi-finals. In six seasons in Kamloops, Hitchcock recorded a 291–125–15 record, which stands as the second best in WHL history.

NHL coaching career[edit]

Dallas Stars[edit]

In 1990, Hitchcock left the WHL and joined the Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant coach. Hitchcock spent three seasons with the Flyers organization before leaving to helm the Dallas Stars' IHL franchise, the Kalamazoo Wings, for the 1993–94 season.

In the middle of his third season with the team (then renamed the Michigan K-Wings), he was offered the head coaching position with the Dallas Stars and on January 8, 1996, he was named head coach, replacing Bob Gainey, who remained with the Stars as general manager. In his first full season with the Stars, he led the team to a first-place finish in the Central Division and a playoff berth. In his second full season with the Stars, Hitchcock again led the Stars to the playoffs, losing in the Conference Finals to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. Also during the 1997–98 season, Hitchcock was named to his first of three consecutive NHL All-Star Game teams as coach.

During the 1998–99 NHL season, Hitchcock led the Stars to a regular season record of 51–19–12 (0.695 winning percentage), a team best. In the playoffs, Hitchcock led the team to a Stanley Cup victory over the Buffalo Sabres, the team's first. The next season, Hitchcock again led the team to the Stanley Cup finals, only to lose to the New Jersey Devils.

In the 2000–01 season, Hitchcock again led the Stars to the playoffs, but exited early. Midway through the following season, after getting off to a mediocre 23–21–6 start and in the midst of strife between the players and management, Hitchcock was fired as head coach.

Philadelphia Flyers & Columbus Blue Jackets[edit]

Hitchcock was quickly picked up in the off-season by his old team, the Philadelphia Flyers, who had just fired their coach, Bill Barber, after an early exit from the playoffs. Hitchcock brought much-needed discipline and direction to the Flyers and led them to a 45–24–13 record in his first season, losing in the Conference Semi-finals.

In Hitchcock's second season with the Flyers, the Flyers finished first in the division with a 40–21–15 record and advanced to the Conference Finals, losing to the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

The 2006–07 NHL season would see the Flyers get off to an abysmal 1–6–1 start over their first eight games, their worst start in 15 years. After a 9–1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, management promised there would be some major changes to the organization. On October 22, 2006, the Flyers fired Hitchcock and General Manager Bobby Clarke stepped down.[1]

On November 1, 2006, the Flyers assigned Ken Hitchcock to be a pro scout for the club. On November 22, 2006, Hitchcock and the Columbus Blue Jackets agreed to a three-year contract to become their new head coach. He coached his first game for the Blue Jackets on November 24 against his former team, the Philadelphia Flyers, a game Columbus lost, 3–2.[2]

On July 9, 2008, the Blue Jackets announced they signed Hitchcock to a three-year extension to remain as head coach.[3]

On February 19, 2009 the Blue Jackets earned Ken Hitchcock his 500th career NHL win as a head coach, by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, in Toronto.

On April 8, 2009 Hitchcock secured the Blue Jackets' first ever post season appearance with a 4–3 shootout win over the Chicago Blackhawks, only to be swept in the conference quarterfinals by the Detroit Red Wings.

On November 11, 2009, in Columbus, in a 9–1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, Hitchcock became the sixteenth NHL coach to reach the 1,000 game milestone.[4]

On February 3, 2010, the Columbus Blue Jackets relieved head coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named assistant coach Claude Noël as the club's interim head coach.

St. Louis Blues[edit]

On November 6, 2011, the St. Louis Blues fired coach Davis Payne, and hired Ken Hitchcock in his place.

On June 20, 2012, Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Award for NHL Coach of the Year.

On February 12, 2015, Hitchcock earned his 693rd career regular season win in a 6-3 defeat of the Tampa Bay Lightning, passing Dick Irvin for sole possession of fourth place on the all-time coaching wins list. Only Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, and Joel Quenneville have more career wins.

On March 12, 2015, Hitchcock earned his 700th career win as head coach in a 1-0 defeat of the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the 2015–16 season, Hitchcock coached the Blues to the conference finals, with home ice advantage, playing the San Jose Sharks. The Blues were defeated in 6 games.

On May 31, 2016, Hitchcock announced that he will coach the Blues for one more season and will leave the team after the 2016–17 season concludes.[5]

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
Games Won Lost Tied OTL Points Finish Won Lost Win % Result
DAL 1995–96 43 15 23 5 (66) 6th in Central Did not qualify
DAL 1996–97 82 48 26 8 104 1st in Central 3 4 .429 Lost in Conference Quarterfinals
DAL 1997–98 82 49 22 11 109 1st in Central 10 7 .588 Lost in Conference Finals
DAL 1998–99 82 51 19 12 114 1st in Pacific 16 7 .696 Won in Stanley Cup Finals
DAL 1999–00 82 43 23 10 6 102 1st in Pacific 14 9 .609 Lost in Stanley Cup Finals
DAL 2000–01 82 48 24 8 2 106 1st in Pacific 4 6 .400 Lost in Conference Semifinals
DAL 2001–02 50 23 17 6 4 (90) (fired)
DAL Total 503 277 154 60 12 .622 47 33 .588
PHI 2002–03 82 45 20 13 4 107 2nd in Atlantic 6 7 .462 Lost in Conference Semifinals
PHI 2003–04 82 40 21 15 6 101 1st in Atlantic 11 7 .611 Lost in Conference Finals
PHI 2005–06 82 45 26 11 101 2nd in Atlantic 2 4 .333 Lost in Conference Quarterfinals
PHI 2006–07 8 1 6 1 (56) (fired)
PHI Total 254 131 73 28 22 .614 19 18 .514
CBJ 2006–07 62 28 29 5 (73) 4th in Central
CBJ 2007–08 82 34 36 12 80 4th in Central
CBJ 2008–09 82 41 31 10 92 4th in Central 0 4 .000 Lost in Conference Quarterfinals
CBJ 2009–10 58 22 27 9 55 (fired)
CBJ Total 284 125 123 35 .503 0 4 .000
STL 2011–12 69 43 15 11 97 1st in Central 4 5 .444 Lost in Conference Semifinals
STL 2012–13 48 29 17 2 60 2nd in Central 2 4 .333 Lost in Conference Quarterfinals
STL 2013–14 82 52 23 7 111 2nd in Central 2 4 .333 Lost in First Round
STL 2014–15 82 51 24 7 109 1st in Central 2 4 .333 Lost in First Round
STL 2015–16 82 49 24 9 107 2nd in Central 10 8 .556 Lost in Conference Finals
STL Total 363 224 103 36 .667 20 25 .444
Total 1,404 757 453 88 106 .606 8 division titles 86 80 .518


Philadelphia Flyers – NHL Official Guide & Record Book 2001 The Dallas Stars History – "Shakeup in Dallas," – "Great pitch, Hitch," SLAM! Sports – "Stars' Hitchcock grows as coach after becoming husband, stepfather," Abeline Reporter-News (December 15, 1997) –

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Dan Bylsma
Jack Adams Award
Succeeded by
Paul MacLean
Preceded by
Bob Gainey
Head coach of the Dallas Stars
Succeeded by
Rick Wilson
Preceded by
Bill Barber
Head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers
Succeeded by
John Stevens
Preceded by
Gary Agnew
Head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets
Succeeded by
Claude Noel
Preceded by
Davis Payne
Head coach of the St. Louis Blues
Succeeded by
Mike Yeo