On Ken Hitchcock’s evolving hockey philosophy
Interesting read courtesy NHL.com on Ken Hitchcock’s hockey philosophy. The new St. Louis coach shared a bit of what he wants to see out of his team as he takes over from Davis Payne.
Two key words for the Blues are “tempo” and “transition.”
The tempo part is self-explanatory -- Hitchcock wants things done quickly at both ends of the ice. It’s not the style he coached in Dallas, where he’s said the Stars “played like an old dog. We just sat back and let you make mistakes and then we buried you.”
The NHL has changed over the years.
“To me, transition ... the whole game has to be played behind people,” he said. “It’s not so much chipping it in, it’s just making people turn. That’s the whole focus of the game. If everybody’s on that page, then you play faster. You don’t slow down to make a play.”
Puck possession is another important element of Hitchcock’s philosophy. Think Detroit, Chicago, San Jose and Vancouver. Those teams will almost always choose to carry the puck into the attacking zone versus dumping it in and chasing.
Of course, not every team can play that way. It takes puck movers on defense, intelligent and talented forwards, and speed all around.
Fortunately for Hitchcock, the Blues have the pieces in place to make his philosophy work. The question now is whether they’ll buy in.