Ken Hitchcock is back and coaching in the NHL again. After serving for a brief period as a coaching consultant to the Dallas Stars, he’s now accepted the job behind the Edmonton Oilers bench.
The Dallas Stars have a lot to thank Ken Hitchcock for in his tenure as the head coach of the team.
In his first tenure from the 1995-96 season to the 2001-02 season, Hitchcock helped transform the Stars into a hockey powerhouse. In that span, he compiled a record of 277-154-60-12. He helped mold Mike Modano into a Hall-of-Famer and one of the greatest American-born hockey players in history. And who could forget the various President’s Trophies, playoff runs, and the 1999 Stanley Cup championship?
His presence behind the Stars bench had an influential impact on the team in its early days in the state of Texas.
In April of 2017, the Dallas Stars announced that he would return for a second run. After spending 14 seasons with three other teams, Hitchcock returned to Dallas for another run and a brand new lineup in need of a new direction.
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And though the 2017-18 season was a rather uneventful one for the team as a whole, Hitchcock once again played a significant role in the development of certain Stars. He turned Tyler Seguin into an all-around elite forward, helped transform John Klingberg into a superstar defenseman, and aided in rounding out the skills of other players.
Following the 2017-18 season, the need for a return to the playoffs for this Dallas Stars squad became all the more imminent. As a result, Hitchcock announced his retirement from coaching and moved into an advisory role with the Stars organization. In light of his retirement, Dallas hired Jim Montgomery as the team’s newest new head coach.
That retirement didn’t last long, though. On Tuesday morning, the Edmonton Oilers announced that they had fired head coach Todd McLellan and had hired Ken Hitchcock to take his place.
The move isn’t necessarily a surprising one for those who have followed Hitchcock. After being fired by the St. Louis Blues in what was reported to be his “final season” behind the bench, all signs led to Hitchcock being done. A few months later, he was hired by the Stars and spent the year moving into third on the all-time coaching wins list.
So, staying away from the game for an extended period of time didn’t seem to fit the 66-year-old.
In his brief period with the Stars following his retirement, Hitchcock served in an advisory role to Montgomery. The new Dallas head coach had called Hitchcock on a few occasions to ask questions about games and the overall NHL style as he continues his transition into a new league. And while Hitchcock’s presence wasn’t critical, it likely helped to a certain extent.
Now with Edmonton, Hitchcock will take on the task of leading the 9-10-1 Oilers out of the Western Conference cellar after a rough 2017-18 campaign and attempt to get them back into the playoffs. With Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at the center of the mix, he has the weapons to make it happen. But will he use them in the right way?
Regardless of what happens, Hitchcock is no longer a member of the Dallas Stars organization. But even so, he still remains a critical piece of the history.