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Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock wins Jack Adams

Jun 20, 2012, 7:43 PM EDT

Ken Hitchcock AP

Prior to this season, Ken Hitchcock had been nominated for the Jack Adams three times in his career but had never taken home the award.

Turns out the fourth time was a charm.

Hitchcock captured his first-ever coach of the year trophy at the NHL Awards show on Wednesday night, beating out fellow Adams nominees Paul MacLean (Ottawa Senators) and John Tortorella (New York Rangers).

The win caps off a truly remarkable season for the NHL’s oldest head coach. Hitchcock, 60, had been out of the NHL since Feb. 2010 before taking over a struggling Blues team that was 6-7-0 and in 14th in the Western Conference.

What transpired after the November takeover was one of the greatest in-season turnarounds in franchise history, as the Blues went 43-15-11 to finish the year atop the Central Division (first win since 1999-2000) and second overall in the Western Conference.

With the win, Hitchcock becomes the fourth coach in St. Louis history to capture the Jack Adams, joining Red Berenson (1981), Brian Sutter (1991) and Joel Quenneville (2000).

Hitchcock reflects

Hitchcock had plenty to say about winning the award, especially when it came to connecting with young players. That meant finding ways to connect with players, which perhaps wasn’t that difficult since Hitchcock said that he enjoys “their music.”

(He wouldn’t name any names, but he raved about watching concerts on the Palladia network. Go ahead, imagine Hitchcock listening to The Arcade Fire now.)

“I pride myself in being current,” Hitchcock said. “More than anything I’m fascinated by this age group because Generation Y, the big thing is ‘why?’ They ask that question every day. They don’t just do what they’re told, they want to know why … this generation is making us as coaches more accountable than we’ve ever been in our life. If they don’t buy what we’re selling, they’re not going to go and play for you.”

Hitchcock did an interesting job putting that Blues team in perspective. Interestingly enough, he said that the best team he ever coached was the 2004 Philadelphia Flyers, not one of the Dallas Stars squads. His best work as a bench boss might surprise some people, too.

“The best job we’ve ever done as a staff was the one in Columbus when we went to the playoffs,” Hitchcock said. “That team over-achieved every day.”

This might have been his first Jack Adams, but you got the feeling that the nod was as much a validation of a great body of work than a singular achievement. Still, Hitchcock gives every indication that we haven’t seen the best of this Blues team – but that might require some of his best work, too.

  1. rpiotr01 - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    BS, Torts got robbed. Especially with Armstrong winning GM of the year.

    Some great team, those Blues. Completely quit against the Kings, no fire, didn’t even compete. The Rangers lost but they went down trying.

    • geezgtfo - Jun 20, 2012 at 8:50 PM

      God arent you just a cry baby who doesnt know S*** about hockey. I remember the Rags losing to the Devils. Didnt the Devils lose to the Kings in the SCF. Didnt the kings beat the Blues. Hitch is a better coach.

      • rpiotr01 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:23 PM

        Lol, whatever man. Makes perfect sense – I have an opinion on something that you don’t agree with, therefore I know nothing about hockey.

        Both teams lost in the playoffs. Watch the last game of Kings-Blues. I can’t remember the last time I saw a team just quit and get the life sucked out of them like the Blues did. Don’t know what else to tell you.

      • cardsandbluesforever - Jun 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM

        no kidding man. Hitch took over what was one of the worst performing teams in the league a month into the season and it made a night and day difference. last year the blues didnt make the playoffs, and this year they came within a few games of winning the president’s trophy- that qualifies as coach of the year in anyone’s book.

  2. hockeyfan1701 - Jun 20, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    Good for Hitch. To bad HE was the problem and the Blue Jackets had to fire him, that was the thing that turned them around, Oh wait……

  3. zbilyeu7 - Jun 21, 2012 at 3:40 AM

    You apparently don’t know anything because your case why Hitch shouldn’t win is based on the playoffs. The award is based on the regular season Einstein

  4. blues1988 - Jun 21, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    rpiotr01-“Especially with Armstrong winning GM of the year.”

    So in your mind each team should only be able to win one award? dumbest argument I’ve ever heard.

  5. cgspens - Jun 21, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    On winning the award I would like to thank the Columbus Blue Jackets for firing me so I could win this award. And thanks to them for trading all the players they have had to make hockey a better sport.

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