NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.
Ken Hitchcock sat at his desk recently, beginning his fourth season as coach of the St. Louis Blues, and he couldn't recall a time when his players came to training camp in better shape and in a better frame of mind.
The 62-year-old, who coached the Blues to the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past three seasons, has stood by and watched his core group of players grow up.
The Blues, who have been eliminated by the Los Angeles Kings (2012 and '13) and Chicago Blackhawks (2014) the past three seasons, in the past would often soak up all the attention received as Stanley Cup favorites. Because they hadn't qualified for the playoffs in five of the six seasons prior to this three-year run, the players became a bit overwhelmed by the attention they were receiving.