After at least exploring options for their coaching position, the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday announced that veteran coach Ken Hitchcock would be returning with a one-year contract.
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said he had been involved in discussions with Hitchcock throughout the offseason and at one point the Blues reportedly sought permission to talk with former Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock.
Babcock eventually was hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs after signing an eight-year deal worth $50 million, the richest ever for an NHL coach.
The 63-year-old Hitchcock has been the Blues’ coach since Nov. 7, 2011 and the club has the best regular-season record in the NHL since his arrival (175-79-27, .671 winning percentage). The Blues also have won two Central Division titles, including this season.
That success has not carried over into the playoffs, where Blues are coming off a first-round playoff loss to the Minnesota Wild. It marked their third straight season of failing to advance beyond the opening round. The team has won just one playoff series in four seasons during Hitchcock’s coaching tenure.
After the Blues won the Central Division title in 2011-12, Hitchcock received the NHL’s Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach. He is one of only four coaches in NHL history with at least 700 wins with a career record of 708-429-185 (.606 winning percentage).
His lone Stanley Cup championship came with the Dallas Stars in 1999 among all his teams’ 13 playoff appearances. Before coming to St. Louis, Hitchcock coached previously with Dallas, Philadelphia and Columbus. He also was an associated coach with Team Canada’s gold medal winning squads in 2002, 2010 and 2014 at the Winter Olympics.