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Ken Hitchcock named Stars coach

Returns for second stint in Dallas, where he won Stanley Cup in 1999

by Sean Shapiro / Correspondent

DALLAS -- Ken Hitchcock, who was hired for his second stint as coach of the Dallas Stars on Thursday, planned on retiring after this season. 

And that was still the plan after Hitchcock was fired by the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 1.  

But then the calls started coming in. Other coaches wanted to pick his brain and the 65-year-old was more than happy to talk shop. 

"I started coaching 10 or 15 guys -- [AHL], NHL, junior, college -- and I was having the time of my life," Hitchcock said. "I was helping them become better coaches, but in the end what it did was really help me.

"I was done, to be honest with you. But when those coaches started calling and asking for help, it got me revved up."

It ultimately led to Hitchcock's return to Dallas. Stars general manager Jim Nill said Hitchcock received a multiyear contract that includes an agreement to move into a consulting position after he's done coaching. 

Hitchcock takes over for Lindy Ruff, who was not offered a new contract after his four-year contract expired. The Stars failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs one season after they were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

"I mentioned how we had to get things moving fast, and speaking with Ken and going through this process over the last few days, I was so excited and thrilled with his passion and energy that he had to get back into coaching," Nill said. 

Hitchcock returns to the Stars, who gave him his first chance to be an NHL coach in 1996. He coached Dallas to the Stanley Cup in 1999, to the Cup Final in 2000, and is their all-time leader in wins at 277-154-60-12. 

"First of all, this is an emotional day for me, because this is like coming home," Hitchcock said. "This means the world for me."

Hitchcock is 781-474-88-111 in 20 seasons with the Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Blues, and is one win behind Al Arbour for the third on the NHL all-time list. Hitchcock coached the Blues to the Western Conference Final last season after defeating the Stars in seven games of the Western Conference Second Round.

"To me, Dallas Stars hockey is reckless energy with proper positional play, and I'll bring that forward," Hitchcock said. "But I don't ever want to lose that reckless energy that they had last year. When you played Dallas, you never felt that you were in control of anything."

Hitchcock met with most of the Stars players Wednesday. Captain Jamie Benn, forwards Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza, and defenseman Dan Hamhuis, attended Hitchcock's press conference. 

"He's been there, done that, and that's what you want in a coach," Benn said. "You want a guy that's won, you want a lot of experience, and his resume backs it up really well."

The Stars announced Sunday that Ruff would not return after they finished 34-37-11 with 79 points, the second-lowest total in a non-lockout season since they relocated from Minnesota to Dallas. 

"I'm banking on a year ago, because I saw something special," Hitchcock said. "I saw something special in the captain, in Jamie, I saw something special in the good players, and I saw something special in the spirit. I know I can get that back quickly."

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