Dallas’ Ken Hitchcock announces retirement as NHL head coach

Dallas Stars head coach Ken Hitchcock. (Tony Gutierrez/AP)

After 22 seasons as an NHL head coach, and another three as an assistant, Ken Hitchcock has announced his retirement from coaching in the NHL.

He will move into a consultant role with the Dallas Stars.

“We were honoured to have Ken as our head coach and it was fitting that he finished his coaching here,” Dallas Stars Owner and Governor Tom Gaglardi said in a release. “He is a certain Hockey Hall of Fame coach and he left a lasting legacy wherever he went. He will forever be a Dallas Star and I look forward to his continued friendship.”

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Hitchcock retires with 823 wins, the third-most in NHL history behind only Scotty Bowman and the still-active Joel Quenneville. The 1,536 games he spent in the league as a head coach are the fourth-most ever.

The 67-year-old coached four different NHL teams, but spent most of his years with the Dallas Stars. He first joined the team in 1995-96 when they were entering their third year in Dallas after relocating from Minnesota. Hitchcock missed the playoffs in his first year with the Stars, but within four years he had reached three conference finals, two Stanley Cup finals and won the Cup once, in 1999 over the Buffalo Sabres.

After his first go-around in Dallas, Hitchcock joined the Philadelphia Flyers for a little more than three years, reaching one conference final. In 2006-07, he joined the Columbus Blue Jackets and led that franchise to its first-ever playoff appearance. From there, he joined the St. Louis Blues, for whom he coached parts of six seasons, reaching one conference final in 2015-16.

Hitchcock rejoined the Stars this season, but a 7-9-4 finish after the trade deadline as the offence dried up saw the Stars slide out of playoff contention to finish 10th in the Western Conference.

“Ken Hitchcock is an icon when it comes to head coaches, not only in hockey, but across all of sports,” Stars GM Jim Nill said. “He poured his whole life into better understanding in-game concepts and strategy, inspiring players and enhancing teams. He leaves an indelible mark on the game and his influence will be felt across the sport for years to come. We want to thank Ken for all that he has given throughout his coaching career.”

Prior to joining the NHL, Hitchcock coached the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers from 1984-90, reaching two Memorial Cup tournaments.

Hitchcock reached the playoffs in 14 of his 21 NHL seasons.

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