Hitchcock had planned on retiring after he was fired by the St. Louis Blues in February, but the 65-year-old started fielding calls for advice and opportunities and Dallas came calling. The lure was too much to resist.
“I started coaching 10 or 15 guys – [AHL], NHL, junior, college – and I was having the time of my life,” he said. “I was helping them become better coaches, but in the end what it did was really help me. I was done, to be honest with you. But when those coaches started calling and asking for help, it got me revved up.”
Dallas general manager Jim Nill came knocking and offered Hitchcock a multi-year deal with a consulting position offer at the end of it, which put the former Stars coach in line to replace Lindy Ruff.
“I mentioned how we had to get things moving fast, and speaking with Ken and going through this process over the last few days, I was so excited and thrilled with his passion and energy that he had to get back into coaching,” Nill said.
Hitchcock first coached the Stars in 1996 and led them to the Stanley Cup in 1999. He also coached them to the Cup Final in 2000 and is their all-time wins leader with a 277-154-60-12 record. He’ll have a chance to build on that record with another run.
Hitchcock is 781-474-88-111 all-time in 20 seasons with the Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Blues. He’s just one win behind Al Arbour for third on the all-time list.
Hitchcock met with many of the Stars’ players on Wednesday, including Jamie Benn, and it looks like he’s found a good fit.
“I’m banking on a year ago because I saw something special,” Hitchcock said. “I saw something special in the captain, in Jamie, I saw something special in the good players, and I saw something special in the spirit. I know I can get that back quickly.”