Longtime NHL coach Ken Hitchcock, who spent over three decades coaching many of the world’s top players on both the professional and international stage, announced his retirement from coaching the Dallas Stars on Friday, ending his career as the third winningest coach in NHL history (823 wins).
Hitchcock cut his coaching teeth with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League, joining as head coach in 1984 and serving for six seasons, winning two WHL titles. Hitchcock joined the NHL with Philadelphia in 1990 as an assistant coach, spending three seasons before joining the Dallas Stars organization in 1993, eventually joining the main club as head coach midway through the 1995-96 season. Hitchcock would serve for seven seasons with the Stars, leading them to consecutive Stanley Cup finals and the franchise’s first Stanley Cup title in 1999. Hitchcock would later serve as bench boss in Philadelphia (four seasons), Columbus (three seasons) and St. Louis (six seasons), before returning to the Stars for his final season. Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2012, and led his teams to six division titles and two President’s Trophies.
“Hitch” first joined the Canadian coaching ranks while with the Blazers, joining the national Junior team as an assistant coach at the 1988 Worlds, where he helped Canada clinch Gold in their first tournament since the infamous Punch-Up in Piešťany. With his thriving NHL career stopping his national team commitments, Hitchcock would not rejoin Team Canada until the 2002 Olympics, serving as an assistant under Pat Quinn to help Canada win its first Olympic Gold in half a century. Hitchcock would later serve at three Olympics (2006, 2010, 2014), three World Championships (2002, 2008, 2011) and the 2004 World Cup, head coaching at the 2008 and 2011 Worlds, winning additional Olympic Gold in 2010 and 2014 and a World Cup title.
As a coach with Team Canada, Hitchcock first won the IHLC on New Year’s Day 1988 with the World Juniors, not winning another until the 2002 Salt Lake Games. He would win another five during his various stints with the national team, the final being at the 2014 Sochi Games. We wish Ken and his family the very best for their retirement and the things to come!