The CBJ's are fortunate to have a coach that is a pillar of consistency. Structure and accountability characterize this coach's philosophy and since his introduction to Columbus he has managed his team with knowledge and integrity. He expects nothing more from his team than he expects from himself. Preparation and punctuality is not a given, it remains a must. His assistant's roles are formed in concrete and demands are very high with regards to pre-scouting, dissecting and organizing for future opponents. His players are always the first to acknowledge his minute dissertations and how they are pin point in detail as related to the task at hand. Prior preparation for practice results in perfection on the pond... remember perfection on the pond, this is part of a man we know as Ken Hitchcock.
Hitch's 1,000th game is going to fall upon him on Wednesday. It is against a team he has eloquently described as the team that has set the bar in the NHL over the past 10+ years. The Detroit Red Wings come into town; though not the same Winged Wheels as they have been during past few years. Hitch is concerned. He is not so short because inside he knows his team will be ready to go. His love for the game has gone from the pocket book worries years ago, to the love of the game today. Worried about getting fired not once, but twice has been replaced accordingly in the mental mind of the experienced coach.
"Wins and losses are not nearly as important anymore. I really love the process... I really enjoy the building... I am at a point in my life where I coach to build... and the day that I lose it or the players tune me out, then I will shut it down." - Ken Hitchcock, Saturday, November 7.
There are plenty of young players that credit the Colonel for assisting them in their development. To name a few... Mike Modano... Brett Hull (Hall of Famer)... Sergei Zubov from the 1999 Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars. Look no further to the CBJ players of today. There are several players that dot the ice surface that inertly beg for structure. One player that has begun to show the results of Hitch's philosophy and the demands is Rick Nash. This is one true example of how he has an affect on young players. Rick Nash continues to develop and on his way to the next level as an elite player. Time is a process. It will be great to follow the progress of the kids on the ice today... the Voracek's, the Brassard's, the Filatov's... they continue their climb up the development ladder. It is a game of no easy nights, there is no cheating in the process and they must be challenged each and everyday if their want is to be the best.
Todd McLelland and Paul Maurice encapsulated what Hitch's teams are really like... "they always come hard... they do not turn the puck over... they are always prepared... you work for everything you get... you can not hope to get things done against a Ken Hitchcock team, and especially cannot cheat. Teams must stay accountable in their system or (the Blue Jackets) will beat you every night."
Ken Hitchcock is on a list of his own. He loves to talk the game. He loves to push the envelope on his coaching terminology. He is a student of such icons as Dave King and Claire Drake. For those of us involved in the game, all of us take away a portion of the inside of this great game. It is a life lesson as well.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.