The Ken Hitchcock Effect

01/08/2010
Florida Panthers v Philadelphia Flyers

If the words of Nikita Filatov are not enough to describe how much of an effect Ken Hitchcock has on his young players, then you will definitely want to read this.

The young Russian said in a recent interview, when questioned on his decision to return to the NHL, “I highly doubt it. But [moving] Ken Hitchcock can really help it.”

There is a pattern and we will show you it.

On January 8, 1996, the Dallas Stars appointed Hitchcock’ as their head coach. This team displayed a nice mix of veterans and youth with promising players like Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Jamie Langenbrunner, Richard Matvichuck (acquired via trade), Trent Klatt and Darryl Sydor.  This same team found chemistry together eventually leading them to a Stanley Cup Championship just three short years later.

However, in his first season, the kids barely saw the ice. Outside of Modano and Matvichuck, forwards Lehtinen, Langenbrunner and Klatt played a defensive checking role. Lehtinen was not drafted to be a defensive type player. Yes, he developed into a very good two-way player but a lot of his offensive potential lied to rot with Hitchcock not using him in a more offensive role or in a more offensive system.

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Krajicek, MacKenzie Placed on Waivers

12/11/2009
Tampa Bay Lightning v New Jersey Devils

According to Lightning Strikes with Damian Cristodero defenseman Lukas Krajicek was placed on waivers.  Coming over in a trade for Shane O’Brien, the 26-year-old registered two goals and 18 assists in games over 92 games and two seasons.  Originally drafted by the Florida Panthers  in the first round, 24th overall the native of Prostejov, Czechoslovakia carries a lofty 1.4 million cap hit and will most likely not be claimed with the cap crunch most teams are in.

As a history buff, it is also notable he was part of the illustrious deal that sent star goaltender Roberto Luongo to Vancouver.

In other news Aaron Portline of The Columbus Dispatch writes the Blue Jackets placed Derek MacKenzie on waivers. A favorite of coach Ken Hitchcock, the 28-year-old produced six points over three seasons and 34 games with the team.  MacKenzie gets sent down in hopes he goes unclaimed, as he is a casualty of the numbers crunch.  The team needs to make a move in order to activate left wing Fredrik Modin.

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What’s Eating Steve Mason?

12/08/2009
Jackets vs. Flames

Has the ghost of Jim Carey come to haunt last year’s Calder Trophy winner?

Say it isn’t so!

For those unfamiliar, Carey was a star NHL netminder in Washington for two brilliant seasons in the mid-90s, before being traded and subsequently fading into hockey obscurity faster than you can say….uh…er…Jim Carey.

Speaking for Canadian hockey fans everywhere, there were visions of greatness for the lad from Oakville, Ontario as he ascended the stage last June at the NHL awards ceremony to accept his trophy. With a humbling level of modesty and graciousness, he bowed to Tim Thomas in the Vezina race but we all believed that one day his day would come.

Could the script have been written more perfectly?

As a Canadian kid with a stellar hockey pedigree he dominated and won gold at the 2008 WJC. He started last season in Syracuse recovering from off-season knee surgery, logically it would take a year in the minors for development and tuning. However, a month into the season and after only a few minor league starts, he got the call to Columbus due to Pascal Leclaire injuring his ankle.

After winning his first NHL game, he went on to get his first NHL shutout several games later. Through November and December Mason played brilliantly, winning Rookie-of-the Month honour for both months. The wins and shutouts began piling up and Leclaire, having returned from injury, had a front row seat from the bench. Coach Ken Hitchcock rode the hot hand through the season and Mason’s hand never cooled down. In March ’09 GM Scott Howson traded the injury prone Leclaire to Ottawa, confident that their goalie of the future was in fact their goalie of the present.

How could this fine specimen of a goaltender NOT be the real deal?

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