Ken Hitchcock has officially retired from coaching.
Since his coaching debut midway through the 1995-1996 Dallas Stars season, he’s coached 1536 regular season games, winning a staggering 823. He sits third all time in NHL wins, behind only Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville.
In his first tenure in Dallas, he took a team still struggling for identity following a controversial relocation, and turned them into a powerhouse. He brought the Stanley Cup to Texas in 1999, and won five consecutive division titles with the Stars. The man made hockey relevant in Dallas.
However, as much as he’s remembered for that amazing stretch in Dallas, he’ll also be known for failing to take any other team to the Stanley Cup Finals. Philadelphia, Columbus, and St. Louis all saw Ken Hitchcock come in, turn things around, and play some amazing hockey, only for things to take a turn for the mediocre ending up in his firing. Yes, he did take the Blue Jackets to the playoffs for the first time ever, but they got swept by the Red Wings. Yes, he did lead the Blues to their first playoff win in eight years, but they also went out in the first round in three of his six seasons, and only once made the conference finals.
And unfortunately, it’s those near-misses that define his career.
Even in this past season with the Stars. the defensive improvements are overshadowed by the shocking decline on offense, and lineup choices ranging from questionable to ludicrous only made things worse. He seemed to coach completely differently on the road, leading to a disappointing road record that likely cost us playoffs.
Yes, he brought us a Stanley Cup.
And yes, he saw some of the greatest seasons in this team’s history.
But this team was two years removed from finishing top of the Western Conference. Missing the playoffs last season was an anomaly, not the sign of a rebuild. We expected far, far more than Ken Hitchcock delivered this season.
So, thanks for everything you did for this team back in the nineties. We really appreciated it.
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