Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock has announced his retirement and will move on to a consultant role with the team.
This ends a 22-year career behind the bench for the Edmonton native.
Hitch entered coaching early, spending 10 years as a head coach for the AAA Sherwood Park Chain Gang hockey club. He was subsequently hired by the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers in the mid-1980s and led them to four straight division titles. He also secured two league titles and was named the WHL’s Coach of the Year twice in that span.
When Hitchcock left the WHL to join the Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant in 1990, he posted the league’s second best coaching record.
Hitch spent three seasons in Philly before he was hired by the Dallas Stars’ IHL club in Kalamazoo. He coached there for three seasons before he was tagged as the new head coach of the NHL club. He led the Stars to a playoff berth in his first season as coach and eventually took the team to a Stanley Cup in 1999.
Hitch was eventually fired by the Stars after considerable success, but the Flyers were more than happy to scoop him back up after canning Bill Barber. By October of 2006, he was fired in the midst of a poor start after leading the Flyers to considerable success in prior seasons.
The Columbus Blue Jackets hired Hitchcock in November of 2006. He earned his 500th career win in 2009 and took the Blue Jackets to their first playoff berth in the same year.
But by February of 2010, he was replaced by Claude Noel.
The St. Louis Blues were the next team to hire Hitch and they did so on November 6 of 2011. He secured the Jack Adams Award in 2012 and earned his 700th career win as head coach in 2015 as his Blues knocked off the Flyers.
Hitchcock intended to retire in St. Louis at the end of the 2016-2017 season, but the Blues fired him in February. He was one game behind tying Al Arbour’s record for third-most coaching wins.
With new goals in mind and a renewed vigour, Hitchcock was again hired by the Dallas Stars. He coached through the 2017-2018 season and picked up his 800th career win in December.
And now, it’s over.
“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.”
Hitchcock leaves his career with 823 career wins, the third-most in NHL history behind Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville. His teams made the playoffs in 14 of his 21 seasons.