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Hitchcock, Blues still talking about possible return

by Louie Korac /

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues have not made a decision regarding who their coach will be next season, but the dialogue between general manager Doug Armstrong and coach Ken Hitchcock is ongoing.

Armstrong and Hitchcock, whose contract expires June 30, are having conversations to decide whether the 63-year-old will return for a fifth season.

Armstrong, who addressed the media Thursday on the signing of Martin Brodeur to a three-year contract as assistant GM, would not commit to when the Blues will make their decision on a coach.

"I'll again go back to what we talked about at the end-of-the-year meeting," Armstrong said. "We weren't going to put a specific date on when we're going to have a decision. Ken and I have had really good communication since the end of the season. When I was in Europe, we talked quite a bit. We're talking again now. We're both still discussing what we need to do to get better going through the process. I certainly can say we're a lot closer to the finish line now than we were two or three weeks ago, but we're not there yet."

Hitchcock has coached 281 regular-season games in four seasons with the Blues, going 175-79-27. But the Blues have been unable to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where they are 10-17 and have been eliminated from the first round three straight seasons. They are 6-16 since winning their only playoff series with Hitchcock, against the San Jose Sharks in 2012.

"Ken and I are going to keep working towards having good communication and making sure we're both in the same vein, taking the same path as we move forward," Armstrong said. "It's something that we're working on every day, we're trying to do it behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny. I'm aware that people want answers, but fortunately for us, we have a strong ownership group that understands that this is a process and we're going to make use of our time. When a final decision's been made, we'll announce it."

The Blues reportedly asked permission to interview Mike Babcock, who was named coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

In 18 seasons as coach with the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Blues, Hitchcock is 708-428-97, with 88 ties. He won the Stanley Cup with the Stars in 1999 and took them to the Cup Final in 2000. In his 14 82-game seasons, he has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 13 times.

His 708 wins are fourth all-time behind Joel Quenneville (754), Al Arbour (782) and Scotty Bowman (1,244); Hitchcock's 1,322 games coached are ninth, and third among active coaches behind Quenneville (1,375) and the Stars' Lindy Ruff (1,329). Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Award in 2012.

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