Ken Hitchcock is one of the most prepared coaches in the league, and St. Louis Blues fans will be the first to tell you that their trust in Hitch is overwhelming.
Throughout his career, Hitch’s method has worked. He has taken teams from outliers to Stanley Cup Championships and since taking over the reins of the St. Louis Blues, Hitchcock has had great success leading this club back to its winning heritage. While the Blues have hit some rough patches this season, they are still likely to make a playoff run and could possibly surprise many of their critics. The faith of the Blues to make such a run lies in the work that Hitchcock has done during his career and his time with the Blues.
Recently I was lucky enough to get Hitch to answer a few questions for me via an email interview. Here is what Hitchcock had to say:
Hodschayan: You took over the Dallas Stars in 1995-96. At the time the St. Louis Blues were a powerful team in the West. What was your impression of this organization during your time with the Stars?
Hitchcock: I always thought that St. Louis was the toughest opponents for us. They had 3 lines that could score and a great power play. I thought the difference in the series was Ed Belfour. He was great.
Hodschayan: Your hard work paid off quickly in Dallas and you earned the right to lift the cup in 1999. What was the most memorable experience about that run for you?
Hitchcock: The series versus Colorado was so emotional. Every game was so riveting; Colorado had so many great players. They were a scoring machine and we could check. Something had to give and both series in 1999 and 2000 went to game 7.
Hodschayan: When Hull scored the Stanley Cup winning goal, did you think it was going to count, or were you concerned it would be called a no goal?
Hitchcock: Yes I did (think it would count). Hull was there when the puck was there, it was a good goal. I know people in buffalo think differently.
Hodschayan: Speaking of Brett Hull, everyone who has worked with him has a story. Any funny stories you want to share?
Hitchcock: During training camp Hull passed the puck so hard. He would partner with rookies and pass the puck so their sticks would fly off their hands. He would pass the puck so hard they would lose their sticks.
Hodschayan: Last season when Armstrong brought you into St. Louis, were you excited to get back behind the bench?
Hitchcock: I was ready to coach again. I had turned down a couple of jobs during the summer and when Doug called I was starting to miss it. The call came at the perfect time.
Hodschayan: When you joined the team you said that you had been studying them, who were you most excited about working with?
Hodschayan: You have seen a lot of changes in the NHL during your career. What is the biggest change that you have seen to improve the game? Which do you see as the most hurtful change to the game?
Hitchcock: I like the new rules which eliminate hold ups. I don’t like the “no red line” (elimination of the two line pass) rule. It doesn’t allow players to make plays in my opinion.
Hodschayan: The big question on St. Louis Blues’ fans minds at the moment is when will Jay Bouwmeester make his debut with the St. Louis Blues. Do you think he will be up to speed and ready to go by Thursday?
Hitchcock: I am not sure on Bouw yet. We hope to have his visa done for the Chicago game. He is an easy guy to play with and I think the transition will be smooth.
Hodschayan: Bouwmeester was a big acquisition for the Blues, and one that they seem to have wanted to make for some time. Does this mean that we should expect to see Jackman back with Shattenkirk or will he drop down to the third pairing?
Hitchcock: The plan is to play Jackman with Polak. They were good together before.
Hodschayan: Jordan Leopold seemed to adapt quickly last night. Do you see him as part of the long term plan on your team?
Hitchcock: Leopold is a solid guy we really like him I hope he likes us and we like him at the end of the season. He is a real pro.
Hodschayan: Vladimir Tarasenko is a very lucky rookie to be working with you. You have made comparisons before, but what type of player do you see him developing into?
Hitchcock: Vlad reminds me of a young Alexei Zhamnov. He will be a great pro. Very smart and quick study.
I want to thank Ken Hitchcock for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer these questions for me. The St. Louis Blues are working hard at the moment and I look forward to future opportunities to speak with the coach of the St. Louis Blues.
Thursday night the St. Louis Blues will be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks, and look to be in a great position. Assuming that Bouwmeester is ready to go, Hitchcock made it clear that he will be in the lineup and Jackman will drop down to the third pairing with Roman Polak. Hopefully the Blues can steal a couple of points from the soaring Blackhawks.
More as we have it.
LET’S GO BLUES!