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.