The St. Louis Blues have been a rather good team in the NHL over the last five seasons seeing four straight trips to the playoffs; however, in that time the Note have never made it past the Western Conference semifinals. While the blame in professional sports is often attributed to a number of reasons, one may question St. Louis’ commitment to head coach Ken Hitchcock.
History with Hitch
Since 2011 Hitchcock has served as the man behind the bench for the Blues and while he’s been successful over the duration of his 20 year NHL coaching career, he hasn’t been able to do what the Blues need of him. St. Louis is plagued by short post-season trips and it needs to change or else serious alterations to the make-up of the locker room will ensue.
Hitchcock has reached a number of milestones in his lengthy coaching career: he’s been behind the bench for over 1300 games and he led his various teams to 7 divisional titles. He reached the ultimate goal in hockey in 1999 as he saw his Dallas Stars win the Stanley Cup.
He won the Jack Adams Trophy in 2012 for Coach of the Year after his first season in the Gateway City. Hitch served as an assistant coach to Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi that saw them bring home gold. He’s a successful man in the hockey world by all means.
That, however, isn’t the issue. The question at hand is whether or not he’s the right guy to coach this St. Louis Blues team at this very moment.
Struggles Down the Stretch
The Blues head into the All Star Break third in the central division, three points behind the Dallas Stars. While that is by no means bad, the Blues’ nine point cushion on the Minnesota Wild could shrink if they are able to win their three games in hand over St. Louis.
Making it to the post-season is a goal every year for most teams, but it’s become a requirement for the Blues because of their regular season success. While that doesn’t seem to be in jeopardy at the moment, a slump in any of the remaining months of the season could put that at risk.
Hitchcock has to find a way to motivate his locker room and make them realize what’s at stake. Despite the fact that a fantastic run isn’t necessary for the Blues to compete in the playoffs, it’s in their best interest if they’re playing solid team hockey leading up to them.
More than that, though, is the upcoming playoffs. The Blues have never won a Stanley Cup in franchise history and that’s at the forefront of the minds of players and fans alike at the first drop of the puck on the postseason.
Hitchcock only signed a one-year deal to coach this season for the Blues and his future with the team will most likely be determined by their success in the playoffs. If the Blues are eliminated in the first or even second round, it could be expected that some serious changes will ensue.
If St. Louis can find themselves playing in the Western Conference Final or even the Stanley Cup Final, though, Hitch may be the man behind the bench for a year or years to come.
There are a lot of questions regarding the veteran coach’s place moving forward and rightfully so. He’s been a decent coach up to this point in St. Louis, but is that really what they want from a guy that’s a large factor in whether or not they bring home the most coveted trophy in sports?
What do you think the Blues are going to do about Hitchcock? Does it depend on the playoffs? Leave your thoughts in the comments.