Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hitchcock leans on fellow coaches to help Blues

Veteran coach sought help from seven
friends in ranks to digest good, bad of his team

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Instead of using the all-star break to dissect his team on his own, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock sought opinions from outside sources.

Whether they're in high places or low places in Hitchcock's fraternity of friends will remain anonymous, as the veteran coach chose not to disclose names, but they must be high on the totem pole since Hitchcock said he sought out coaches he views as friends to give their take on how the 29-13-7 Blues can elevate their game.
(Getty Images)
Even with 556 wins and 1,077 games coached in the NHL, Blues coach
Ken Hitchcock doesn't mind seeking opinions from friends in the
coaching ranks.

"I asked seven coaches to look at our team -- seven friends -- to look at our team, not in the NHL," Hitchcock said. "I asked them to take a look at certain aspects of our team and report to me what they might see. I talked to seven guys and gave five different aspects of our game for guys to look at and then brought the information here to look at afterwards. And then we kind of dug in on a daily basis to deal with the issues that needed to get better."

It's not that Hitchcock is concerned with where the Blues are at through 49 games, but in order to remain consistently at the top of their game and go toe-to-toe with the rest of the big boys of the league, there's certain aspects where another voice maybe catches something Hitchcock might not find himself.

"I asked guys that are in the coaching fraternity to take a look at some of the games and they did," Hitchcock said. "I asked guys to look at offensive zone play, defensive zone play, special teams, rush attacks, all kinds of aspects of our game. I asked if they could give me a one- or two-page report from what they saw and that they liked and didn't like and things we needed to get better. And then I had the same coaches study a few teams in the Eastern Conference and what they do effectively that we could help ourselves with."

And the consensus conclusion was?

"A couple guys on certain aspects -- I don't want to get into what the aspects were -- of our game, the reports came similar with both good and things we needed to work on," Hitchcock said. "When we came back here (Monday), rather than just practicing, I wanted to come back here and practice with purpose. I wanted to practice where we had a strong feel and identity for things we wanted to work on rather than just the same-old, same-old.

"(Monday), we put four of the elements in place and (Tuesday), we put three of them and then we'll review them quickly on Thursday and get ready to play (Friday). There's no major structure stuff at all, but there are definite focuses and we've seen in the two practices that we've worked on these things, there's a big difference if you do it right ... and it can help us a lot."

The Blues will be the last team to resume their post all-star schedule, when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Look for them to add a few new wrinkles into the game plan. Hitchcock believes a few new twists might be good for his team, since his circle of friends didn't hold back in their findings.

"I'm a big believer in getting information and then digesting it," Hitchcock said. "I asked these guys to help me out. I got the video, they got themselves video and I really appreciated what they did. Some of it was real candid."

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