Ken's magic touch
The Blues are on fire this season, led by the man behind the bench,
CHICAGO, IL -- A lot of attention has been given to the turnaround
that Ken Hitchcock has facilitated in St. Louis this year, leading the
Blues on an astonishing run to the top of the NHL standings.
But while Sheryl Crowe might have been right about change doing the
Blues some good, other teams have tried to flip a switch and met
Perhaps the most intriguing moves made last summer came from Doug
Wilson's office in San Jose, where regularly being among the top teams
in the NHL was shown to be not enough. Wilson made a couple dramatic
moves, trading Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi to Minnesota, in an
effort to reinvent the wheel.
But the Sharks are proving to be a case of "if it ain't broke, don't
try to fix it" this year. A dismal slide after the trade deadline has
pushed the Sharks into an unfamiliar place: battling for the eighth
and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. After dominating the
Pacific Division for the last few years, they're not in a heated race
with Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles the division title... and just to
get into the postseason.
If any of the Sharks players need someone to shed tears into beers
with, they could just make a quick call to their former mates in
Minnesota. The wheels have come flying off for the Wild, who have
posted only three points in seven games since the trade deadline.
Minnesota was active at the deadline, but the moves they made appear
to be looking to next year (at least their fans hope so), as they're
now buried in the Western Conference and might slide into the top five
in this summer's draft.
Perhaps no change has impacted an organization less than the removal
of Bruce Boudreau in Washington. With a talented roster struggling to
a less-than-acceptable start in the Eastern Conference, the Caps made
a change behind the bench on Nov. 28 with a record of 12-9-1 and an
eighth place slot. Since the change, the Caps have posted a 23-19-5
record and are... still in eighth place in the East.
Was Boudreau the issue? Since the Anaheim replaced Randy Carlyle with
him on Dec. 1, the Ducks have turned around their season with an
improved 22-17-6 record and have moved up from fourteenth to twelfth
place in the West.
Los Angeles traded for a star and changed coaches, but the magic
hasn't been there. Montreal changed coaches but continue to make the
same mistakes. And there's been enough head scratching in Toronto to
keep Rogaine in business for another decade.
So many coaches have changed jobs and players have swapped sweaters,
but not many attempts at energizing a roster have been successful this
Everyone is looking for the right formula, but it appears the only
lightning in a bottle is being served in St. Louis this season.