The Ken Hitchcock era is alive and well in St. Louis for at least one more season.
The St. Louis Blues and head coach Hitchcock have agreed on a one-year contract, general manager Doug Armstrong announced Tuesday morning.
“I’m really proud to be able to coach this hockey club again,” Hitchcock told reporters. “I couldn’t find a better operation.
“This is unfinished business for me. I don’t want to coach to coach. I want to coach to win.”
The accomplished coach’s old contract was set to expire on June 30, and after St. Louis was ousted from the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive season, doubt surrounded the 63-year-old’s future with the club.
The Blues spoke with Mike Babcock about coaching the team in 2015-16, further clouding Hitchcock’s status, but after Babcock chose to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Armstrong circled back to his current coach.
“Ken and I are going to keep working towards having good communication and making sure we’re both in the same vein, taking the same path as we move forward,” Armstrong told reporters last week.
“It’s something that we’re working on every day, we’re trying to do it behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny. I’m aware that people want answers, but fortunately for us, we have a strong ownership group that understands that this is a process and we’re going to make use of our time.”
Under Hitchcock, St. Louis has enjoyed exceptional regular seasons, posting a 175-79-27 record, but has accumulated just 10 wins in its last 27 playoff games.
Hitchcock served as an associate coach on Team Canada’s 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold medal squads. He has coached 18 NHL seasons with the Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers, and Dallas Stars, with whom he won a Stanley Cup in 1999. His 708 career wins rank fourth all-time behind Joel Quenneville, Al Arbour, and Scotty Bowman.