Two days afterafter a bottom-of-the-league performance in 2016-17, the Dallas Stars appear to have turned on the time machine, welcoming back the same man who led them to the Stanley Cup nearly two decades ago.
That's right. According to Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News, Ken Hitchcock is on his way back to Dallas, where he spent parts of seven seasons atop the coaching staff, leading the Stars to five playoff appearances and the 1999 title.
Ken Hitchcock on his way to Dallas to coach the Stars, two NHL sources confirm. Story in a few minutes...— Tim Cowlishaw (@TimCowlishaw) April 12, 2017
With Hitchcock's reunion all but set, here are a couple of takeaways:
Appreciating nostalgia is not such a bad thing
It's not always the best bet to cling to the past -- and this move can certainly be classified as a blast from the past, circa 1996. But with the Stars insisting they are not in a "rebuild" as they move on from the Lindy Ruff era, who better to call upon than a seasoned vet in Hitchcock who has found success at every stop over the course of his career?
Hitchcock, of course, hasn't won the Stanley Cup since that 1998-99 season, but it's not as if his teams have been subpar since then. The Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues all made postseason trips under his watch, and the Blues were contending in the conference finals just two seasons ago.
In other words, the man knows how to win. And in a league where old coaches are often welcome back (and sometimes discarded more than once), this doesn't smell too much of valuing nostalgia over practicality.
As a short-term fix, Hitchcock makes a lot of sense
The age factor has to be something to watch, and not only because Hitchcock is as experienced as they come. The coach said himself before being axed from St. Louis during the 2016-17 campaign that he intended to retire following the season, so perhaps the clock is still ticking on his career.
But take a look at the personnel changeup the Blues underwent from their playoff campaign in 2015-16 to this season and, as Cowlishaw notes, it becomes clear that Hitchcock was committed to keep plugging away.
If his success adapting to other organizations and working with the talent at hand is any indication, he's as good a bet as any for the Stars as a short-term leader.