Sutter, Hitchcock and “creating conflict”
Ample mutual respect exists between Darryl Sutter and Ken Hitchcock, two Alberta-born bench bosses who made their NHL coaching debuts in the early-to-mid-1990’s. Sutter’s San Jose Sharks were an improving and dangerous club at the time, though they often played second fiddle in the Pacific Division to the Dallas Stars, who won the 1999 Stanley Cup and nine other playoff series during Hitchcock’s tenure, which included five 100-point seasons. The two met twice in the playoffs in that span, with Dallas winning both series – the first round of the 1998 postseason, a six-game Stars win over the Sharks, and the second round series of the 2000 postseason, won in five games by Dallas.
“Hitch beat the hell out of us in Dallas. Lucky to get one back at him last year,” Sutter remarked after the morning skate.
Earlier in the day, Hitchcock won over a crowd of reporters when he was asked about the differences in their coaching styles.
“In summer, he talks to cows, and I talk to golfers,” the Blues’ coach said.
After the laughter subsided, Hitchcock gave an honest and revealing interpretation of the way the two coaches operate, calling to attention the successful effect of “creating conflict”.
“That’s part of coaching,” Hitchcock said. “You’re getting the players to go into places that they don’t want to really go into or don’t know how to go there, and your job is to help them. Along the way there’s some conflict, but at the end of the day the reward’s worth it. Darryl’s had success because of that formula, and I’ve had success because of that formula.”