St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock talks to his teamd uring the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011. Detroit won 3-2. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) By Carlos Osorio
(NEWS 4 SPORTS) -- If you’re not a hockey fan or still contemplating becoming one, right now is the perfect time to jump on the Blues’ bandwagon. Win or lose, mostly winning right now, watching the Blues is as exciting as it gets.
There’s a contention of people who believe coaching matters little and it’s the players who make the difference; I don’t buy that, especially in this case. During Ken Hitchcock’s press conference when the Note introduced him, he said the Blues had as much talent as any team in the NHL, and I have to be honest, I thought it was just a PC line to give his team a boost, but now we’re learning he really did believe that about his team. I don’t think I’ve seen a coach get more out of a team than Hitch has with his club. I don’t mean that as a shot towards the players, but the ‘average’ guys are playing well, and the ‘good’ players are playing great.
How has Hitchcock gotten so much out of his team? I’m not 100-percent sure, but I spoke to one player, and he said Hitchcock knows when to give his team days off. In the past, according to this player, win or lose, more times than not, Davis Payne would make the team come in the next day for a hard practice. This player said sometimes after a big win, or a long, grueling stretch Hitch would give them a day off or two because they deserved it. Essentially, the players know they’ll be rewarded for victories.
As well as the Blues have played this season, Hitchcock wants more out of his team. I mean can you imagine playing for this guy? Here you are, sitting nearly a top of the NHL every other night, and the coach says ‘okay guys, good work, but I need everyone to step it up even more.’ I never played pro sports, but playing sports in high school, hearing that would be extremely motivating and it would cause me to do exactly what he asks.
There hasn’t been playoff hockey in St. Louis in a few years, but if this team continues to listen and respond to Hitchcock you can bet the Blues won’t only make the postseason, but they could go deep, bringing excitement to St. Louis which is long over due.