ST. LOUIS - With Tuesday night's win over the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock reached a new milestone as the win brought him to a tie with his friend Pat Quinn for the most regular season victories. And the usually-talkative coach seemed startled by the realization that he had reached win number 684.
"Obviously because it's Pat," Hitchcock said, speaking to the significance of the win, "We had a great friendship. He was a real good friend."
Quinn passed away on November 23 after battling a lengthy illness. The two worked together with Team Canada.
"He was the best manager of people I've ever been with in my life," Hithcock continued, "He was the best manager of people I've ever seen and he was in some highly volatile situations with us with World Cups and Olympics and he handled it perfectly every time. He was amazing."
Yet, it's clear Hithcock's own team thinks he manages people well. The Blues let the Oilers back into the game late in the third period, but Hitchcock called a timeout trying to get his team to regroup and focus.
"He had to say a couple of times a couple of bad words," Jori Lehtera explained.
"Hitch is one of the best of all time," goaltender Jake Allen added, "Guys battled hard for him [Tuesday] and the success is very deserving."
Quinn and Hithcock stand tied at fifth on the list, but that won't be for much longer and it's extremely likely Hitchcock will cruise into fourth place by season's end. He's only eight wins shy of tying Dick Irvin at 692 regular season wins, but the 63-year-old coach has no illusions to what the wins really mean.
"It kind of means you're just old," he joked.
Scotty Bowman leads all coaches with 1244 regular season wins with Al Arbour (782) and Joel Quenneville (734) rounding out the top three.