Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hitch....being Hitch

The Columbus Blue Jackets' head coach just cracks me up. I have never seen a coach so consistently, refreshingly honest as Ken Hitchcock. And he's been on a tear this week.

Exhibit 1 - The self-examiner

After the win against Washington, Hitchcock was asked about the CBJ's challenges in shutting teams down. His answer started with (and I'm paraphrasing), "We can't shut people down.  If you've watched us for the last few games, you'd see that." The Dispatch article about Hejda continues:
Following the Jackets' 5-4 overtime win over Washington on Sunday, Hitchcock cited Hejda in talking about his team's inability to hold leads.
"Until we get the big guy back there and it starts to spread out the minutes, we will have trouble because we're running out of gas," Hitchcock said.
"The big guy," of course, is Jan Hejda.  But it's the rare coach that doesn't sugarcoat their team's problems.

Exhibit 2 - The truth-teller

In the aftermath of Washington Capitals superstar Alexander Ovechkin's shoulder injury sustained against the spunky Columbus Blue Jackets, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau had this to say:

"I think the game plan was every time Alex touches the puck, that somebody hit him or run him. That's what it looked like to me."
When asked about it, Hitch was...well...Hitch:
Yesterday, Hitchcock pleaded guilty as charged to accusations made by Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, who told the Washington Post that the Jackets were attempting to "run" and "hit" Ovechkin every time he touched the puck in Sunday's game.
"That would be correct," Hitchcock said. "That's the name of the game. Why, is that against the rules now?"
Classic.  No pussy-footing around with our coach.  Man up, Boudreau...your star player wasn't complaining in the media!

Exhibit 3 - The sugar dispenser

Hitch's plain-spokenness sometimes comes back to bite him in funny ways.  Take this exchange regarding tonight's San Jose game:
A lot of NHL coaches prefer not to talk about the opposition, or pay a quick compliment and let it go at that.
But Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock went on at length Tuesday about the Sharks team that his will face at Nationwide Arena tonight.
"There's a reason they win," Hitchcock said of a San Jose team that has climbed to No. 2 in the Western Conference and will be looking for its sixth consecutive victory. "It's not because they have a lock on the talent. It's because they play the game the right way.
"Their team is a product of the environment that's created by the coaches. It's a team that gets after you offensively, it's a team that gets after you defensively," said Hitchcock, whose Blue Jackets lost to San Jose 6-3 at HP Pavilion on Oct. 8. "They go to the hard areas to check, they go to the hard areas to score. We're always trying to get our players to fight for space rather than look for space. They're where we want to get to."
Sharks coach Todd McLellan took the compliment, then raised questions about its accuracy and suggested Hitchcock had another audience in mind besides the reporters he was addressing.
"I respect Hitch's comments, but we're not that way all the time," McLellan said. "We have our warts. We try to work through them just like every other team."
Hitchcock, McLellan added, "is one of the best motivators in the league" and praising the competition is "a very good motivating tactic."
Heh heh.  We'll take every advantage that our coach provides, thank you.

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