The men behind the benches are arguably just as important as the ones on them, and Ken Hitchcock joined that elite group back in 1995. Since then he’s coached four teams, and won six division titles as well as a Stanley Cup.
His rather impressive resume has made him a veteran in the NHL, currently heading into his 20th season as a head coach. The road to St. Louis wasn’t always easy, though.
Dallas Stars (1995-2002)
It all started with the Stars back in the 1995-1996 season. Hitchcock was 44 years old when he first coached in the NHL and it was a less than successful first season. Dallas went (15-23-5) in the shortened year and they finished 6th in their division.
From there, Hitchcock and the Stars improved immensely taking three straight division titles before clinching the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 1999. They then followed that winning season up with two more division titles.
During the 2001-2002 season, though, Dallas and Hitchcock faltered. The Stars were (23-17-6) for 4th place in their division and Hitch was fired midway through the year.
Philadelphia Flyers (2002-2006)
Conveniently for him, the Flyers had just fired their head coach and could hire him for the start of the 2002-2003 campaign. In a little more than three years with the team they earned one division title and were good enough to come in second two seasons as well.
Unfortunately, the club had the worst start in franchise history to begin the 2006-2007 season and Hitchcock was fired as a result.
Columbus Blue Jackets (2006-2010)
In November of that same year, however, Hitchcock found a new home as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. It took a few seasons, but in 2009 he and the Jackets secured their first franchise playoff berth ever. Columbus ended up being swept by the defending champion Detroit Red Wings in the first round, but making it was impressive nonetheless.
Then in February of 2010 after a (22-27-9) result in 58 games Hitchcock was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Blue Jackets.
St. Louis Blues (2011-present)
After the firing of Davis Payne in 2011, the Blues signed Hitchcock as their 24th coach in franchise history. His presence was immediately felt in St. Louis as they ended the season with 97 points to clinch the Central Division title. The immediate results felt by the Blues following Hitchcock’s signing earned him the Jack Adams Award in 2012 naming him the coach of the year.
Since then St. Louis placed 2nd in the division for two years before they won it once again during the 2014-2015 season. He signed a one-year contract after the Blues were eliminated from the playoffs, even after knowledge of the team looking into other options.
The one thing that’s for sure is that Hitchcock will be the man behind the bench until further notice. If the Blues continue to win that will remain true; however, if they waver in consistency or have a rough start to the season there could be a new head coach before the ball drops to begin 2016. As cliché as it is, only time will tell.