St. Louis Blues Give Ken Hitchcock One-Year Contract Extension


The St. Louis Blues announced on Tuesday morning what many had suspected for the past week or so, acknowledging that coach Ken Hitchcock would remain in place for the 2015-16 season. Hitchcock, who has been the team’s coach since early on in the 2011-12 season, is getting a one-year contract extension. He’ll once again attempt to complete the proverbial task of getting the Blues past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which hasn’t happened since Hitchock’s first season in St. Louis.

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Hitchcock, whose future was left in question following a highly disappointing first round loss to the seventh-seeded Minnesota Wild this year, will now get what seems to be a final shot at launching the team into the late rounds of the playoffs. With effort having been a noticeable issue at times during this year’s postseason, there will need to be personnel changes, even beyond those which will be necessary in order to stay under the salary cap as Vladimir Tarasenko earns a hefty raise in restricted free agency. It’s highly probable that at least one of the players among the team’s long-standing “core” will be gone this offseason.

With the 63-year-old Hitchcock having talked about retirement immediately following the team’s playoff exit this year, it seems that this season will be a “Stanley Cup or bust” season for him, with the organization likely to seek change anyway if he fails to lead the team deep into the playoffs. Of course, with Hitchcock having just a one-year deal, it would be extremely easy to fire him in-season if the team gets off to a bad start. With that said, the fact that the organization is committing itself to at least a small personnel reconstruction by bringing back Hitchcock and the fact there are no assistants on staff with a particularly strong head coach persona could signify that Hitchcock will be treated with patience this season.

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