One of the biggest concerns among detractors about the hiring of Ken Hitchcock for the Dallas Stars next season is that he’s known for having a style that wears on players and shortens the shelf-life of him as a coach.
In today’s press conference officially announcing his return, Hitchcock acknowledged that criticism, even going so far as to call himself proud of being known for being demanding.
However, there was a level of self-awareness in his remarks that might help put Stars fans at ease.
Hitchcock mentioned that one of the things he looks for in his assistant coaching staff is someone that can tell him when to take a hike, so to speak. He relies on the other coaches to recognize when his style is starting to grate and to keep him in check.
Not only did Hitchcock show self awareness in recognizing he needs that kind of help, he also discussed in great length how his approach may change to teach younger players. He mentioned a conference he attended about the millennial athlete, noting that they “want to know where they’re going before they get there”. The new Stars bench boss also cited several strategies he learned in that three day workshop that have been successful in other leagues and with well-known teams that got him excited about coaching again.
Hopefully he’s able to take that learning and use it with the relatively young roster Dallas could roll out next season.
It also sounds like Hitchcock is looking for a style that suits the Stars roster as it has been constructed of late. He sees Dallas hockey as passionate but structured, allaying some other fans’ fears that he might try to force a preconceived style onto the team that doesn’t fit with the personnel.
That structured hockey is something that will be a little bit different, but not wholly unwelcome, around here. And Tyler Seguin seems to be buying in already.
When asked about Seguin, Hitchcock said he sees him as a first line center (and there was much rejoicing!) that plays in all situations, including key moments within each game. To which Seguin responded “It makes me giddy.”
After all, that role is exactly what was envisioned for him when the Stars acquired the young forward from the Boston Bruins several summers ago. It wasn’t to keep playing right wing; it was to be the franchise center, someone to create a dynamic offense with Jamie Benn.
Here’s hoping that Hitchcock, who commented on knowing exactly how hard this team was to play against in the playoffs last year and had to game plan in order to shut down the dynamic duo, sees it the same way.