EDMONTON, AB - From the moment he took office in November as Oilers head coach, Ken Hitchcock had an arsenal at his disposal.
Taking the mantle of bench boss came with inheriting the club's extensive coaching and training staffs, from the assistant coaches all the way to equipment managers. The job of making them all work in tandem to his liking would also be a task.
The transition proved seamless.
"I think for me, I didn't know one coach very well here when I came in," Hitchcock said in his Sunday exit interview with the media. "I didn't know the support staff, and I got to tell you this became a very tight-knit group. I'm really impressed with the job they did to help me, the way we were able to formulate game plans, and the way we were able to work together.
"They worked really well in cohesion with [Todd McLellan], then it wasn't long before we were able to put things together and work in cohesion too. It was a really good group to be around, very professional, and very accomplished."
Video: RAW | Hitchcock 04.07.19
The 67-year-old Hitchcock came out of retirement to take on the challenge with his hometown Oilers, and immediately tapped into Edmonton's extensive hockey culture. Harnessing the city's energy and its love for hockey has been a high point for the 22-year NHL coaching veteran and third-winningest head coach in League history (849 victories).
"For me, this has really invigorated me," Hitchcock said. "I think it's because I came here, and I've never experienced anything like this in my life where you're on every day all the time, and I really enjoyed it.
"Just being here, coaching here, living here, it's been really invigorating. In my own way, it's been a lot of fun. Just to see how important the game is and how much it means in this city and Northern Alberta has really given me a new perspective on the game of ice hockey."
A rejuvenated Hitchcock hasn't swayed his willingness to return behind the bench next season, and touts a strong Oilers cores following multiple career years as a foundation that can improve with the addition of role players.
"I know we're not far away, I know it feels like we're a little ways away, but I feel like we're not far away and need to add," he said. "We need to help the players that are here. We have a lot of our top players playing at the top of their game. They're playing awful well and they're really had great seasons, so you feel there's a lot to build around."