All jokes about the "trap" notwithstanding, from Dan O'Neill's morning skate:
The Blues skated on Tuesday morning at St. Louis Mills, working on a number of things. Coach Ken Hitchcock contacted seven friends in the coaching business during the All-Star break, sent them tapes and asked them to critique his club.
He wanted to come back from the break with a plan on how his team can improve for the second stage of the season.
“I asked guys that are in the coaching fraternity to look at some of our games, and they did,” Hitchcock said. “I asked them to look at our offensive zone play, defensive zone play, special teams, rush attacks, all kinds of aspects of our game. I asked if they could give me a one- or two-page report on what they saw, what they liked, what they didn’t like and what we needed to do to get better.
“Then I had the same coaches study a couple of teams in the Eastern Conference on what they do effectively that we could help ourselves with.”
Hitchcock has absorbed the feedback and incorporated some related drills into the Blues’ practice regiment as they prepare to resume the season on Friday.
“I wanted to come back here and practice with purpose,” he added. “I wanted to practice where we had a strong feel and identity for things we wanted to work on rather than just the same old, same old … They haven’t been major structural things at all, but there are definite focuses and we’ve seen in the two practices we’ve worked on these things that there’s a big difference if we do them right.”
I'm very impressed by Ken Hitchcock for one reason above all others: His willingness to self-critique and look for ways to be better. That is a true sign of leadership. In the past, the model for older, "old-school" coaches has been more of a rigid, I-know-X-works-and-that's-what-we'll-do come hell or high water approach. The fact that he even has seven coaches willing to take that kind of real time to go over a team they're not involved with speaks to the respect he's afforded in the coaching community.
Given how often repeated are Hitchcock's supposed hallmarks (hates Russians, plays a trap, hates playing young players, wears out his welcome almost immediately, etc. etc. etc.) I wanted to make a thread that notes and promotes this and other evidence of Hitchcock's fresh approach. Whatever he might've been before, he's come back with a totally new approach and the team is obviously responding.
Giving your friends homework is a good way to lose them.
But really, I'm very impressed with the job Hitchcock has done with this team. Armstrong knew what he was doing when he hired him - Hitch's philosophy perfectly suits the makeup of the team and the players are buying into the system.
I'm very impressed by Ken Hitchcock for one reason above all others: His willingness to self-critique and look for ways to be better.
I agree. Hitchcock seems to keep everything simple, and I think he really likes to let his key players have a voice in the way things are done. I remember him saying after his first game against Chicago that he did as little as possible coaching wise, and pretty much left it all up to the players to show him what they have. Personally, I don't think you can take a better approach than that as a new coach. Not only does it give your players confidence in themselves, it gives them more respect for you as a coach. And as a result, it seems like now the guys are really playing with purpose and a winning attitude.
I too was not a fan of the signing... I figured it was going to be a last ditch effort to give hope and just another move. I did not give him a chance due to his mishap in COlumbus and being "fired" from that position left me thinking we took on someone else's burden.
I will eat my words and by appearance, seems Hitch learned new hockey and finding ways to upgrade his own bag of tricks to the new era. I did not see that going to happen.
I was ok with the signing but Hitch has absolutely exceeded my expectations. I knew he was known for being excellent at X's and O's and being structured but his attitude and approach has been a breath of fresh air IMO. I didnt expect him to be this humble. I'll be interested to see if any of us can notice the changes he's working on this week!
I was not best pleased with the hiring, in fact I looked at it with more than a bit of horror. The Hitchcock of Philadelphia and Columbus is not what I wanted the Blues to acquire for a young team which would experience a large number of growing pains.
However, Hitch has proven me quite wrong. He has shown the ability and willingness to adapt.
Kudos to the Blues organization on a quality hiring and to Hitchcock and the Blues for divising a system and buying in to it completely.