Dallas Stars Coaching Candidate Profile: Ken Hitchcock

Age: 59
Playing Career: None
Coaching Career: 1996-2010 (15 NHL seasons)

Ken Hitchcock needs no introduction in Dallas. The man is remembered as fondly as Ed Belfour and Guy Carbonneau in the casual hockey fan's circles as one who brought the Cup to Dallas and the mention of his name seems to excite the masses, but would he be a good fit the second time around in Dallas?

Coaching Career:

Hitch has spent his whole life behind the bench at one level or another, starting in Edmonton at lower levels of hockey and he coached what's known as midget AAA for 10 years before making the jump to juniors with the Kamloops Blazers. He was WHL coach of the year and the best coach in major junior hockey in 1990. He jumped to the NHL level as an assistant with the Flyers in the early 90's and then entered the Stars system (IHL) before eventually being promoted to Dallas Stars head coach, and you know the rest of that story. His last two stints with Philadelphia and Columbus both ended the same way with articles written about his grinding, "demanding" style taking a toll on his players, who eventually tuned him out.

Still there's no denying his success on every level he's been to. He has a 534-350-88-70 record in the NHL but just a 123-129-37 (.496) in five seasons since the lockout.

How He Fits:

After a Marc Crawford that was a little more laid back than everyone had initially assumed he would be, Hitch might come in and run a tighter ship. He would improve defensive responsibility on accounts of all parties (forwards especially) and lower that GA/G. He fits with the fan base, there's no doubt about that and his resume would garner instant respect from all involved. His hiring would be quite a PR move, if nothing else.

Why He Might Not:

In this, the post lock-out NHL, some question whether Hitch's signature style works both on the ice and off the ice. His demanding demeanor and gruff nature with the players is not thought to be effective with this new generation. Players these days want to have conversations. They want to ask questions. They want to see the video and the stats and the percentages. They need more of a dialogue than the old one-sided "Do this because I said so and don't ask any questions" paradigm.

The way Stanley Cups are won on the ice these days is with skill and skating. It's what Joe Nieuwendyk has been preaching as gospel since arriving here and though he had success under Hitch, it's pretty clear that the two don't necessarily think the game the same way. What Hitch coached the Stars to do in the glory days (and even the Flyers pre-lockout) isn't always effective (to get into the playoffs) and is less so when you're in the tournament. (re: Phoenix Coyotes).

Philosophical differences will likely keep Hitch away from Dallas this time unless some middle ground can be found between the two parties, not to mention the fact that Stars drafts and roster construction have been geared away from that sort of thinking going on three off-seasons.

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