As noted earlier, this morning St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock was announced as one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award, along with Paul MacLean of Ottawa and John Tortorella of the New York Rangers. Asked this morning about the nomination, Hitchcock gave an eloquent answer, full of gratitude to family and friends for their support after he was fired by Columbus in 2010. Throughout this season, Hitchcock has talked about how he believes he has evolved as a coach — this is his fourth NHL head-coaching job — and today he also gave a nice answer, as he used Dwight King’s hit on Alex Pietrangelo to illustrate how he and Sutter, two veteran coaches, didn’t make more out of the incident than necessary.
HITCHCOCK: “In previous years, we would have had a big display of grandstanding. It just isn’t important. What’s important is the health of the player, number one. The player that hit him, that’s not his m.o., OK? It was a dangerous play, but the grandstanding that goes on, with all that stuff that you did years ago, you don’t have time for any of that stuff (now). Darryl and I, neither one of us has time for that. It’s about the players. As you move on, I think you learn that it’s about things that are more important than you. To me, the players are about the players. They’re for the organization. I think, as you get older, you just understand about keeping the team’s focus and moving ahead from tough times. It’s tough watching your best player lay on the ice. It’s tough getting the information that he’s not coming back. But what’s tougher is the impact it has on your team.
“As leaders, both of us have found ways to get our teams to move on. I’m sure Darryl had a lot of phone calls about people being bitter for him, when he got let go in Calgary. He’s had to move on too, and focus on other things so that he can become sane. That’s what you learn after a while. You talk about mental toughness. Well, you’ve got to have it sometimes, and you’ve got to show it sometimes. You’ve got to move on and you’ve got to get your team to move on.’’
Sutter also gave a veteran coach’s answer when asked about the possibility that Pietrangelo might play tonight.
SUTTER: “Even though we’re playing St. Louis, you want the best players playing. He’s a top player. It’s no different than us with Doughty. You want those guys playing. The game wants them playing and we want them playing.’’