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June 20, 2012

Ken Hitchcock


Q.テつ What's this like for you?テつ Obviously you think back to where you were a year ago to being where you are now, what's that journey been like for you?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ I think it's something for me, when you're in the business and you're with a team‑‑ I think what happens to people in our sport is that it's not the connection to be a head coach, it's the connection to be part of a team.
When you're out, it's a really lonely feeling.テつ And you can connect to different teams all you want, but it's only temporary.テつ So for us, it's not being a head coach, it's being connected to the team.
And it's like one of the things that really helped me was that when you're on a team, you don't feel like you need anybody.テつ You feel like it's a powerful situation.テつ And then when you're out, you feel like you need everybody.
And I was lucky.テつ I had a lot of friends in the business that got me to stay busy by going and watching their teams and participating with them and hooked up back with Hockey Canada, hooked up back with doing some pro scouting for Columbus and stuff like that.
So I was lucky in that way, but it's a real eye‑opener when you're really‑‑ really, since I started coaching in'73, I've never been disconnected from a team since'73.テつ That's almost 40 years, you know?テつ And it's a different feeling when you're out.
And so I didn't care what I did, other than I didn't want to do the ice.テつ But anything else, I wanted to be connected again.

Q.テつ What about getting this individual recognition at this stage in your career?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ I don't know.テつ Of course I don't look at it that way.テつ I look at it more‑‑ to me, the nomination means more than the award, to be honest with you.テつ When you're nominated, it means that the three of us did a hell of a job.
And the award's a vote.テつ I mean, who knows?テつ Who knows how people vote?テつ Who knows, who doesn't.テつ But when you're nominated it's a consensus of what the three of us did.
And I'm happiest for Mac, because I coached against Mac in the 90s, and I thought he was the hardest guy I ever coached against in the "I" when he was in Peoria and we were in Kalamazoo.テつ Every game was like a playoff game, and I thought, man, this guy is going to be a heck of a coach.テつ Look at how long it took for him to be a head guy, and I was really happy for him.

Q.テつ Being a historian, could you look at the names of that trophy, Scotty Bowman, and all the other names, what do you think about your name being there?テつ It's on the Cup with them, but on this trophy?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ Everything I've learned was from (indiscernible) Canadiens.テつ I came up through that background.テつ When I was in Dallas, it was influenced by Bob Gainey and Doug.テつ And Bob learned everything from Scotty and (inaudible) and Sam.テつ So the Montreal way was the way we did it in Dallas and it's the way I believed.
And I learned‑‑ I spent 10 years with Bo.テつ And I learned everything that Montreal did when they won all the Cups, how they treated their players.テつ Even though they had superstars, it was team first.テつ Everything I learned from the'70s from Montreal.テつ And Bob walked me through the whole process, who had impact on teams, who to play at the right times.
And so I'm a product of that environment.テつ And I'm a product of no matter how skilled you are, everybody checks.テつ Checking is the team.テつ And no matter how skilled you are, everybody has to commit to 200feet.テつ And Montreal was able to do that when they had all those great players.
And so I believe in that philosophy.テつ And I think that's a winning philosophy.テつ And the best talent in the world, the best teams in the world, when they won all their cups in the world, they were able to do it.テつ And I think I can get used to it.

Q.テつ What do you think it says about your ability as a coach that 13 years after the last time you were nominated for this award, you win it?テつ And the league has completely changed over that time?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ Well, I know the Xs and Os, but I study people.テつ I pride myself in studying people.テつ And I've worked hard at my craft.テつ I just don't go into coach's clinics and look at Xs and Os and penalty plays and penalty killing.テつ I go to millennial seminars for kids and I talk to junior coaches all the time, getting updated on when the change is there.テつ I talk to military people who have cadets who are going through the same issues as our kids are.
I study people.テつ And I pride myself in staying current.テつ I like their music.テつ I listen to their music.テつ I like the things that they think and do.テつ I study them to try to understand what they're doing.テつ I'm not sitting and resting on my laurels.
That's the part of our sport.テつ And in general teams, that's fascinating.テつ It's not the winning or losing; I can deal with that.テつ To me it's all in the march.テつ It's learning about the composite of the group and understanding what makes certain players tick and understanding how you better be prepared to change, because five years ago, you dealt with the players the same way you do now, you would have no success.テつ They've changed.テつ They've changed a lot and you've got to adapt.テつ So I really pride myself on that.

Q.テつ (Question off Microphone)?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ The players laugh like crazy, but my favorite TV station is Paladia.テつ And I watch Paladia four or five hours a day until it drives people nuts.テつ But I love the channel.テつ I love the concerts.テつ I love the music that comes out.
I understand‑‑ I try to understand that environment.テつ I think I'm current.テつ I think I'm current, and I pride myself in being current.テつ I'm fascinated by‑‑ more than anything, I'm fascinated by this age group, because Generation Y is‑‑ the big thing is why.テつ They ask that question every day.テつ They just don't do what they're told or do what you want.テつ They want to know why.
And I think that they're making us, as coaches‑‑ this generation is making us, as coaches, more accountable than we've ever been in our life.テつ If they're not buying what we're selling, they're not going to go and play for you.テつ And I think that's a real challenge we have to face.テつ It's been interesting.

Q.テつ Where does this Blues team rank?テつ Obviously there's Dallas in'99.テつ Where would you put this team?テつ Is it one of the best teams you've ever coached?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ No, not yet.テつ The best team I coached was in Philadelphia.テつ The year we lost to John, that was the best team I've ever seen.テつ That's the best I've ever seen a team play, and we've lost those five defensemen.テつ That team, to me, was unbeatable.
It was a team of talented guys and Clarky made the trade and got Markov, made the trade and got Zanoff, and I thought quite frankly we were unstoppable.
In the last two games against Toronto, in the first two games against Tampa, those five guys went down.テつ And we ended up playing Sammy (inaudible), 25 minutes a night on defense.テつ That's how desperate we were.テつ We lost it all.
And that's the best team I've ever coached.

Q.テつ Why do you think this Blues team bought what you were selling?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ I think that the success we had in the first week, for whatever reason we got Detroit and Chicago right away, and we beat them pretty handily right out of the gate and I think the players bought into what was being sold right away.
I think when they saw success, they were bought in a little bit, but then when they‑‑ if we didn't have that success, I think we would have had a battle all year.テつ But we were great right out of the gate against those two teams and everybody found its way to play.
I've said this to people:テつ We played defense by playing what I call volume offensive hockey.テつ We just volumed up the game in the offensive zone.テつ We occupied the offensive zone for as long as we could with volume of shots and volume of puck control, and that's how we played defense.
The only time we got stung all year was when LA made us spend time in our own zone, more time than we were spending.テつ When the game was 50/50, we weren't big enough in the back end to absorb.テつ But all year, we played volume hockey and it was very successful.

Q.テつ (Question off Microphone)?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ I'm like‑‑ I don't want to call it the Great White Hope.テつ But I'm like the guy, like, man, if he can do it, I can do it.テつ I'm the guy that came from minor hockey to National Hockey League, and I get those letters every month from people who are coaching Peewee B or Peewee AAA or Bantam AA.テつ Jimmy, I'm the guy that gets the letters.テつ Well, how did you get there and how do I get there, and these are the guys coaching 13‑year‑olds thinking:テつ If he can do it, then I can do it. テつLook, he worked for a living and he came from a long ways back and how did he get there and how can I get there?

Q.テつ Anything more gratifying than this?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ There's nothing that compares with the Stanley Cup, the Olympic‑‑ there's nothing that compares to the Stanley Cup, it's not even close.テつ That's a friendship for life.テつ And that's what we had going in Dallas.テつ That's a friendship for life.
And to be honest with you, the team that lost in 2000 is probably closer than the team that won in'99 because it was so heartbreaking and we put so much into it to get back there.
It's a friendship for life between the coaches and the players, the players and the players, coaches and coaches.テつ It's just never going to go away.

Q.テつ Are you upset you never won the coach (indiscernible)?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ You know, it was like the Mr.Ugly Universe contest because when I was getting nominated in the late'90s, the three of us waltzed up there and they took one of us.テつ The rest‑‑ the two were standing on the sidelines.テつ So it was uncomfortable.テつ So that's the only thing I can remember about that event was it was really uncomfortable.テつ And'97,'98,'99, it was uncomfortable.
And I'm glad that we get to sit in our seats and do our thing.テつ But I don't know.テつ Like I kind of just‑‑ as you get older, you stop doing the things that on the promotional side you just focus on you and the players.テつ So I mostly just forgot about it.
But actually the best job we've ever done as a staff was the job in Columbus when we made the Playoffs.テつ That team overachieved every day.
So I just think you recognize your own body of work and you hope that at the end of the day, my focus now is coaching the players and giving back to coaches that are in junior and college hockey and stuff like that.テつ That's my focus now.

Q.テつ (Question off Microphone)?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ Yeah, well, Flemmer's everybody's friend.テつ Look, he's going through a tough time, but he's everybody's friend.テつ Flemmer, to me, is the conscience of what it is to be a coach.テつ If you look up in the dictionary of what a coach is, to me, Flemmer's name should be beside it, because he's a teacher, motivator, he's everything.
And so I think for all of us, they've worked with him and there's been a lot of us.テつ I think he's held a very high standard for all of us.

Q.テつ How much longer do you want to keep doing this?
KEN HITCHCOCK:テつ You know what, for me, until‑‑ I told Doug, I'll do this as long as I've got the energy to go through the conflict and the chemistry, as long as I have the energy I'll do it.テつ The minute I don't have the energy I'm walking away.テつ If I don't feel like I have the energy to march with the players I'm going to knock on his door and say I have had enough.テつ But I'm not close to that.テつ I feel the upside of taking this much time off has really helped me.テつ It's really invigorated me.テつ It's allowed me to step back and study, and I'm not recommending it for everybody, but I think sometimes coaches we should take a break.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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