The Columbus Blue Jackets have named Ken Hitchcock
as the new head coach of the National Hockey League franchise, club President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced Wednesday. He will make his Columbus coaching debut when the Blue Jackets visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday at 1 p.m.
“I am very proud and pleased to welcome Ken Hitchcock to Columbus and have him join the Blue Jackets organization,” said John H. McConnell. “We asked Doug to present us with the top candidates available and he stepped up and brought us the best in the business. He did the leg work, made the recommendation and we agreed Ken was the best choice to lead our team.”
Hitchcock, 54, has compiled a 408-227-122 record in 757 regular season games with the Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers during his NHL coaching career. In eight full seasons behind the bench, he led his teams to six division titles (Dallas, Central Division: 1996-01; Philadelphia, Atlantic Division: 2003-04) and has a pair of second place finishes while recording at least 40 wins and 100 points in each of those campaigns. He has also led his teams to a 66-51 record in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a 16-7 mark in 1998-99 when he guided the Stars to the Stanley Cup championship.
“Any discussion of the top coaches in the National Hockey League over the past 10 years has included the name Ken Hitchcock,” said MacLean. “He is a proven winner, a Stanley Cup champion and the ideal coach to help take our franchise to the next level.”
Hitchcock began his professional coaching career as an assistant coach with the Flyers from 1990-93 before spending two-plus seasons as the head coach of the Kalamazoo Wings/Michigan K-Wings, Dallas’ International Hockey League affiliate. He took over as head coach of the Stars midway through the 1995-96 season and in his first full season at the helm led them to the Central Division title. That year, Dallas became just the ninth team in NHL history to go from last place to first place in one season. The club’s 38-point improvement from 66 to 104 was tied for the fifth-best in league history.
Hitchcock spent parts of five seasons in Dallas, compiling a 277-160-60 regular season record and 47-33 playoff mark. He led his teams to five-straight Central Division titles (1996-01), two President’s Trophies (1997-98, 1998-99) and two Western Conference championships (1999, 2000) in addition to the 1999 Stanley Cup. He holds Stars franchise records for career wins (277), playoff wins (47), regular season winning percentage (.610) and playoff winning percentage (.588) and in 1998-99 led the club to franchise single season records for wins, points and highest winning percentage with a 51-19-12 mark.
On May 14, 2002, he was named Flyers head coach and led the club to a 131-73-50 record during the regular season and a 19-18 mark in the playoffs. Philadelphia posted three-straight 100-point seasons from 2002-06, captured the Atlantic Division title in 2003-04 and also advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals that year. On Mar. 21, 2006, Hitchcock guided the Flyers to a 2-1 win over New Jersey, becoming the fifth-fastest coach in NHL history to record 400 wins (736 games). He also served as an assistant coach for the Eastern Conference in the 2003 and 2004 All-Star Games.
The Edmonton, Alberta native has represented Canada at numerous international competitions. He served as an associate coach for Team Canada at the 2002 and 2006 Olympic Games, winning the gold medal at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. He helped Team Canada win the World Cup of Hockey Tournament in 2004 as an associate coach and was an assistant on gold medal-winning squads at the 2002 World Championships and the 1987 World Junior Championships.
During his successful stint with the Stars, he was nominated for the Jack Adams Award as “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed most to his team’s success” three times (1997, 1998, 1999) and served as the Western Conference’s head coach in three All-Star Games (1997, 1998, 1999).
Prior to joining the professional ranks, Hitchcock was one of the winningest coaches in the history of the Western Hockey League. From 1984-90, he led the Kamloops Blazers to a 291-125-15 record with his .693 winning percentage ranking second in WHL history. He was the league’s Coach of the Year in 1986-87 and 1989-90 and was also named the Canadian Major Junior Coach of the Year in 1989-90 after leading Kamloops to the WHL championship and a third place finish in the Memorial Cup Tournament.
Hitchcock was born on December 17, 1951. His family includes wife, Nancy; daughter, Emily; and sons, Alex and Noah.