The St. Louis Blues had one of their best seasons in franchise history in 2015-16, reaching the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 15 years. Unfortunately, they were unable to get past the San Jose Sharks and make it to the Stanley Cup.
Despite that, a lot of positives came out of the season.
Many fans were left wondering about the future of coach Ken Hitchcock following season’s end. The general consensus was that had the Blues not made it past Chicago, Hitchcock would finally be fired from the team. Since they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, it seems that management has found the longtime coach worth of another season, as the Blues will be signing the coach to a one-year deal.
Reports started circulating on Monday night that he would be signed to yet another one-year deal, a deal that in actuality, the 64-year old Hitchcock appreciates.
“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock had said to Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.”
An announcement could come as early as Tuesday, when Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and Hitchcock meet with the media in an end-of-the-season news conference that previously was scheduled. St. Louis would not confirm the reports on Monday night.
The Blues went 10-10 in this year’s playoffs, making Hitchcock’s postseason record with the club 20-27 in five seasons, although their efforts in the postseason don’t reflect the below .500 overall record.
In the five seasons with the St. Louis Blues since being hired on Nov. 6, 2011, Hitchcock has amassed a 224-103-36 regular-season record with the Blues, making the playoffs in each season and winning three playoff series.
On Saturday, many Blues players shared their thoughts on Hitchcock’s possible return.
“I think there’s a feeling of unfinished business for everyone in this room,” Blues captain David Backes said. “You get two wins away from a Stanley Cup Final, you want another crack at it. He’s a guy, he’s put all the work in, puts a great game plan out there, and when we’ve executed it, it’s really tough to beat.
“There’s certainly times when he gets under your skin and he’s not your best friend. But I don’t know if you want a coach that’s your best friend. You want someone that’s pushing you and always wanting to make you better and make the team better. He fits all those qualities in a coach. Five years together now, I think he’s done one heck of a job.”
Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo added: “You aren’t always going to love your boss, right? ‘Hitch’ is a competitor, he knows how to push the right buttons. It’s not easy to accept it in the moment. But when you look back and look at the overall picture now of what he was able to do, obviously he’s doing it for a reason. He’s had success in this league for so long for a reason. Sometimes you don’t always agree with it, but it works.”