The Dallas Stars aren’t the first team to try and bring back a coach who previously won them a Stanley Cup; last year the Ducks did the same thing when they brought back Randy Carlyle, who led the franchise to their first and only cup back in 2007. But while some critics of Ken Hitchcock’s might think that the Stars are leaning too much on nostalgia, many are strong believers in Hitch and his potential to take the Stars over the hump. Even the Great One himself has high expectations for Dallas this season:
"I think it's a wonderful fit," Gretzky said. "I expect Dallas to be completely opposite of what they were last year. They're going to be a very competitive team."
After being fired mid-season by the St. Louis Blues, Hitchcock began to get calls from various hockey coaches, from college to the NHL. At first, the calls were the standard, “Sorry you got fired,” but as time went on, many began calling to try and pick the veteran’s brain for advice. As the season progressed, he made a habit of flying out to watch some coaches’ practices and their following game. And as he did this more and more, Ken said that he began to notice a change:
"I'd gone from mentoring to learning," Hitchcock said. "And then I just started thinking, what am I doing? I love this too much."
Just months earlier, Hitchcock was coaching for what he thought might be the last time in his career. But now that he was finally away from the bench, he realized how badly he wanted to get back behind it. Thankfully he didn’t have to wait too long; the Stars hired Ken to replace Lindy Ruff as their head coach following a disappointing 2016-17 season, an opportunity that, in Hitch’s own words, “is bigger than coaching.”
You can read more about Hitchcock’s homecoming in Scott Burnside’s piece here.
Training camp started yesterday, and if we’re to believe our beloved head coach, it’ll “be a different camp than anybody has ever seen.” [SportsDay DFW]
Sean Shapiro gives insight into the first day of camp, plus the different line combinations and defense pairings. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]
Scott Burnside and Mark Stepneski also give feedback, giving some focus to Jason Dickinson, who many consider to be just on the cusp of potentially making the roster. [NHL]
One other player who seems to have stood out at training camp? Julius Honka:
Hitch is impressed with Honka after one day. Said Honka looks likes an NHL player right now.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) September 15, 2017
Hitchcock gave a glowing review of Honka after practice. "Doesn't look like a player that's got any inclination of going back to the (AHL)."— Josh Bogorad (@JoshBogorad) September 15, 2017
Less happy news: Miro Heiskanen and Martin Hanzal are hurt. While we might be sad to see them miss some or all of camp, Mike Heika notes that it’s wise to be cautious with their injuries. [SportsDay DFW]
Sean Shapiro answered some mail bag questions, where he discussed potential special teams lines and our blue line situation. [Wrong Side of the Red Line]
After years of being a bachelor, Tyler Seguin has finally found love this past summer:
Around the League
When asked if the team really needed city funding to build the arena, Calgary Flames president Ken King dodged the question by taking the stance that the city isn’t giving money to the Flames, but rather putting the money back into the city. [Sportsnet]
It’s time to rejoice, hockey fans: NHL 18 is finally out as of yesterday. I’m glad my room has a window, or else I wouldn’t be getting any sun this upcoming week.
Former Dallas Star James Neal talks about his upcoming season with the Vegas Golden Knights, as well as the harsh reality of switching teams. [NHL]
Remember the ESPN article where 30 NHL players gave one rule they wish they could change? DownGoesBrown power ranks their suggestions in this week’s Grab Bag. [Vice Sports]
Speaking of the Devils (no pun intended), New Jersey and the Los Angeles Kings are both holding tryouts for emergency goaltenders:
Finally, if you find yourself having a bad day, remember that it could be worse: you could be Matt Duchene. [Mile High Hockey]