Ken Hitchcock will bring a great deal of skill and experience to his role as the Dallas Stars’ head coach next season. At 65, he’ll probably also bring more than his share of (possibly specious) concern about his health and ability to bear the load of an already pretty stressful job.
That’s where an old friend comes in. J.J. McQueen came in as strength and conditioning coach during Hitch’s first tenure with the Stars, and he’s coming back to help the coach keep fit, as well:
The returning Stars coach isn't 44 like he was when he first took over the team in 1996. He's 65, so his tendency to yo-yo with his weight brings more concern. The job of an NHL coach is stressful, and Hitchcock said he's well aware of the challenges. But he added that having people such as McQueen around will be wonderful.
"Me and J.J., we've known each other forever, so he will help me and he will push me," Hitchcock said of the longtime conditioning coach with whom he worked when Hitchcock was head coach of the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League from 1984-90.
McQueen says he’s here to help Hitch transition back into the team – including helping him stick to a fitness program the coach set aside for several months:
"He loves to talk, and he has a lot of his own ideas on how to do things," McQueen said. "He's been on his own for five or six months, so he's shaping his program every day. I'm just here to help give him what he needs."
There’s more at Mike’s place. [SportsDayDFW]
The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft will be here before you know it, and Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant has ideas about what the team’s identity should be.
Also at NHL.com: The league has announced the 2016-17 Vezina Trophy candidates.
Last night, as the last throes of the first round began:
- The St. Louis Blues, starring Jake Allen and Magnus Paajarvi, finished the job 4-3 in OT, defeating the Minnesota Wild 4-1 in the series. [St. Louis Game Time]
- The New York Rangers are moving on, too: A two-goal game from Mats Zuccarello powered a 3-1 defeat of the Montreal Canadiens and a 4-2 series win. [Blueshirt Banter]
- And the Edmonton Oilers shocked the San Jose Sharks with a 3-1 Game 6 victory and a 4-2 series win. [Copper & Blue]
Here’s what the Stanley Cup playoffs look like as the first round continues (and possibly concludes) with today’s potential elimination games between OTT-BOS and WSH-TOR:
The lashing out starts here: Bruce Boudreau is smarting over his team’s early exit.
Patrick Kane: "A team like that, you kind of hope they don't win. I don't know if that's necessarily the best way to watch hockey games."— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) April 22, 2017
And a Sharks fan gave the Oilers bench an impromptu popcorn bath after a Connor McDavid empty-netter sealed the game. [FOX Sports]
Sharks fans dumped popcorn on the Oilers bench after the empty-netter sealed it pic.twitter.com/eyZ536FmmU— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 23, 2017
From the Makes Ya Think, Don’t It? department: Adam Gretz says the Habs neglected their speed and skill in favor of size and “toughness” and that’s why they’re going home instead of to Round 2.
Canadiens spent too much time getting tougher, not enough time getting better https://t.co/kv4WF9KWk1— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 23, 2017
A little closer to DFW, the Allen Americans (San Jose Sharks) moved on to the second round with a 4-0 shutout of the Utah Grizzlies (Anaheim Ducks) and a 4-1 series win.
Finally: Even after a disappointing season and early tee-times all around, there’s still awesome Stars stuff just lying around, if you know where to look. Dallas Stars photographer Sean Berry shares one of his favorite pregame moments. Enjoy.