Hitchcock, Sutter both winning models

We might have our first controversy of the second round: Darryl Sutter lying about Ken Hitchcock’s age. Actually, Sutter wasn’t entirely sure about the years today, when he declared himself to “a ‘58’’ and Hitchcock to be “a ‘50.’’ (Sutter’s preferred way of noting people’s ages is by referring to them by the year of their birth, like a car…or perhaps a tractor.) So while Hitchcock is actually a ‘51, and seven years Sutter’s senior, the two veteran coaches have plenty in common.

Hitcock grew up in Sherwood Park, Alberta, just east of Edmonton and approximately 75 miles from Viking, where Sutter was born and raised. The two men have crossed paths many times over the past couple decades, and became linked again this season as mid-season coaching replacements. In early November, Hitchcock took over a St. Louis Blues team that started 6-7-0, and under Hitchcock, the Blues went 43-15-11. Sutter took over for Terry Murray in mid-December and the Kings went 25-12-11 under Sutter. Sutter said he wasn’t surprised to see Hitchcock having success.

SUTTER: “Not really. It’s a pretty good hockey club and he’s a pretty strong leader, (with) a good veteran group and kids that probably just needed a clear focus. Hitch can establish that in a hurry. … That’s what good coaches do. Guys who have coached for a long time, they can adapt, and they have a good pulse on the room. He does that.”

As for his own success as a midseason replacement, Sutter nodded toward this predecessor.

SUTTER: “I told John Stevens coming home on the plane, `Terry Murray is just as important in winning this series as anybody.’ … Why? Because he’s a good coach. That’s always what happens, right? Coaches take the responsibility when players don’t perform. He put a lot in place, the last two or three years.”

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