ST. LOUIS, MO - Another stop on the road, another homecoming of sorts for Oilers bench boss Ken Hitchcock.
"It seems like every arena we go to I've coached in," he laughed following Tuesday's Oilers practice at Enterprise Center. "Is there any more left? Am I doing an outdoor rink tour next?."
Hitchcock took over the coaching reins of the St. Louis Blues on Nov. 6, 2011, after the team dismissed Davis Payne from the position. The move paid immediate dividends for the Blues as he turned their 6-7-0 start into a 49-22-11 record and a Central Division crown.
St. Louis cruised past San Jose in five games in the first round of the playoffs but they were ousted in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion eighth-seeded Los Angeles Kings. Despite the premature playoff exit, Hitchcock's efforts after taking over the team a month into the season earned him the 2012 Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach of the Year.
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Hitchcock's Blues would go on to make the post-season the next four years as well, advancing as far as the Western Conference Final in 2016 before bowing out to the Sharks. He was let go by the Blues on Feb. 1, 2017, and replaced by Mike Yeo.
"It was a hell of a six-year run," he said. "We were in a conference and a division that was strong. We were sitting there with Nashville and Chicago and then you've got LA who was on a roll, and we were right in the mix with those teams.
"We seemed to lose to the eventual Stanley Cup champion, it was always around Game 6 or 7 and it was usually in overtime. That's how close it was. In this league, when you make the playoffs that many years in a row, you've done a lot of good things."
Hitchcock is hoping his Oilers squad can earn a different result than they did in his return to Dallas on Monday as the Stars skated away with a 4-1 decision.
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