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Hitch: 'Partnership' important for new coach, players

Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 2:50 PM

By Louie Korac - Correspondent / At the Rink blog

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At the Rink blog
Hitch: 'Partnership' important for new coach, players
ST. LOUIS -- Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau go back together to their days of coaching in the International Hockey League, Hitchcock at Kalamazoo and Boudreau with Fort Wayne. They first crossed paths in 1994, and now both are entrenched with new teams after filling jobs that became open after the Blues and Ducks each fired their coaches that started the season.

The transition has been good for Hitchcock, whose team is 9-2-3 since taking over the Blues Nov. 6. Boudreau, who was fired from his post in Washington Nov. 27 but quickly found a job in Anaheim a few days later, is 1-1-1.

With Boudreau still in the early stages of getting acclimated with his players and staff, Hitchcock offered up words of advice to make the transition smooth.

"The partnership that lead the group is really important," Hitchcock said. "I was lucky. I never knew David Backes from anything. I really relied on (Jason) Arnott and (Jamie) Langenbrunner, but Backes already had a grip on the team and then we forged a partnership to build, and I think that's what you have to do.

"You can't build relationships with players overnight, but if you can build a relationship with your captain and get that comfortable, I think you can see that with (Boudreau) and (Ryan) Getzlaf, (Corey) Perry, (Teemu) Selanne and those guys. He's talking about those guys every day. ... I always say if you can coach five or six and instruct 25, you're going to do good. He's coaching those five or six and that's what we have to do to get it changed quick."

Boudreau said he's following a similar pattern of opening lines of communication with his leaders.

"We've sat down and talked," Boudreau said. "We've had individual meetings with them and collectively. ... Trying to find out where they're at and give them my philosophies and to see if it fits in with what we're going to do.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to everybody individually because it's happened so quick. But I will get that when we get home. There's about eight guys left that I haven't talked to. I'll talk to them just to try and get to know everybody on a personal basis."

Quote of the Day

We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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