Ken Hitchcock (born December 17, 1951), nicknamed "Hitch", is a Canadian ice hockey coach and pro scout. He is currently the head coach of the Dallas Stars of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has also served as the head coach of the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and St. Louis Blues. 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 Coaching Career[edit | edit source]
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 a record of 575–69. In his spare time, he taught hockey fundamentals to girls at a local hockey school.
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 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 | edit source]
Dallas Stars[edit | edit source]
In 1990, Ken 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), Ken was offered the head coaching position with the Dallas Stars.
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 Ken's second full season with the Stars, once again, he 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, he was named to his first of three consecutive NHL All-Star Game teams as coach.
During the 1998–99 NHL season, Ken led the Stars to a regular season record of 51–19–12 (0.695 winning percentage), a team best.
In the playoffs, he led the team to a Stanley Cup victory over the Buffalo Sabres, the team's first.
The next season, Ken again led the team to the Stanley Cup finals, only to lose to the New Jersey Devils.
In the 2000–01 season, Ken 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, he was fired as head coach.
Philadelphia Flyers[edit | edit source]
Ken 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.
He 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 Ken'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 Ken and General Manager Bobby Clarke stepped down.
Columbus Blue Jackets[edit | edit source]
On November 1, 2006, the Flyers assigned Ken to be a pro scout for the club.
On November 22, 2006, he and the Columbus Blue Jackets agreed to a three-year contract to become their new head coach.
Ken coached his first game for the Blue Jackets on November 24 against his former team, the Philadelphia Flyers, a game Columbus lost, 3–2.
On July 9, 2008, the Blue Jackets announced they signed Ken to a three-year extension to remain as head coach.
On February 19, 2009, the Blue Jackets earned Ken his 500th career NHL win as a head coach, by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, in Toronto.
On April 8, 2009 Ken 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, Ken became the sixteenth NHL coach to reach the 1,000 game milestone.
On February 3, 2010, the Columbus Blue Jackets relieved Ken of his duties behind the bench and named assistant coach Claude Noel as the club's interim head coach.
St. Louis Blues[edit | edit source]
On November 6, 2011, the St. Louis Blues fired coach Davis Payne and hired 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. 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. Despite home ice advantage against the San Jose Sharks, the Blues were defeated in six games. On May 31, 2016, Hitchcock announced that he would coach the Blues for one more season and then leave the team after the 2016–17 season concluded in order to retire. However, Hitchcock did not finish his planned last season with St. Louis. On February 1, 2017, the Blues announced that they had fired Hitchcock and promoted Mike Yeo to take his place. Hitchcock was fired one game before tying Al Arbour's record (782) for third most wins by an NHL head coach.
Return to Dallas[edit | edit source]
On April 13, 2017, Hitchcock was named as the head coach of the Dallas Stars for the second time.
Coaching Record[edit | edit source]
|Team||Year||Regular season||Post season|
|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 Stanley Cup|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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 Conference Quarterfinals|
|STL||2014–15||82||51||24||—||7||109||1st in Central||2||4||.333||Lost in Conference Quarterfinals|
|STL||2015–16||82||49||24||—||9||107||2nd in Central||10||10||.556||Lost in Conference Finals|
|Total||1,404||757||453||88||106||.606||8 division titles||86||80||.518|