Saturday, February 12, 2011

An Open Letter to Ken Hitchcock - Time to Re-Invent

Dear Coach Hitchcock,
Ken Hitchcock busy cleaning up the oil spill, back in year 1.
I am a big fan of yours.  I will always appreciate the stability you brought to Columbus, and the way you laid the foundations for a winning attitude.  I think that will be a lasting legacy in Columbus, and I hope that we as fans never forget what you sacrificed for our team. 

But now we need to move on to more important things, your next coaching interview.  This is kinda tricky, because there isn't a really big market out there in the NHL for defensively minded coaches who have won Stanley Cups.  Its all about the Oh-fence (ah-fense to us Yanks) these days.  So to be successful in your next job interview, I'd like to suggest that you 're-invent' yourself as an offensively minded coach.  And they guy I'd suggest you model yourself after is a guy named Ken Hitchcock.

What I would like to suggest to you Coach, is based on my understanding of your story.  And I think I have this right, since I remember you telling this story on your radio show, or in a meeting with the season ticket holders.

We have to go back to the 1995-96 season, with Dallas.  The Stars had fired their head coach, and brought up the young phenom from the minors, Ken Hitchcock.  But then it didn't go well.  The team finished the season 15-23-5, and keeping your job was definitely on the line. 

Now my understanding of your story, and how I remember you telling it, was that you and Bob Gainey sat down that off season, and designed the defensively oriented system that ultimately won you a cup.  You had come up from the minors coaching a 'hair on fire' high pressure offensive system, and they way I remember you saying it was, and I quote, 'the defenseman at the NHL level were too good, and the system would not work against them'.  Well coach, I don't think you assessed that situation correctly.  I don't think they defensemen were too good. I think they were allowed to hold, hook, obstruct, interfere, crosscheck or pretty much drain the blood of any forward attempting to go by them.

So Coach, I think your situational assessment is flawed.  After the lockout, stay at home defensemen suddenly became  less talented because they were no longer allowed to indulge in the above mentioned nefarious crimes.  The system you and Bob Gainey developed took advantage of the game of that time, and the way the game was called by the officials.  It took a concentrated effort by the NHL to change that, and the game is no longer called the way it was when you designed your current system.

So Coach, its time to go back to the future.  Dig up your old notes from the Kamloops days, think about the system you used in the AHL, and at your next job interview promote that high pressure offensive system you used to coach, and that got you into the NHL.  Because I think there will be buyers out there if you sell it that way.

And if you need a used flux-capacitor, I have one I can let go real cheap.

Best wishes to you in all things Coach Hitchcock.

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