ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - It’s been a whirlwind 24 hours for Ken Hitchcock, and his head was still swirling as he spoke during a press conference at Scottrade Center Monday morning, where he was introduced as the 24th head coach in St. Louis Blues history.
“I’m still trying to figure out how I got down I-70 to get here,” Hitchcock told a roomful of reporters, “but I am really proud and excited for the opportunity.”
The opportunity opened up when the Blues decided to fire Davis Payne in the second year of his two-year contract.
Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said a season that started off with such great optimism has stumbled to a disappointing 6-7 start.
“There’s postmarks that you look for in management,” Armstrong explained. “And I felt that where we are at right now that we needed an experienced coach, someone that could guide this young team.”
Hitchcock sees great potential in his new crop of young players.
“I like potential,” he said. “My job is to get the best players here to play their best and get everybody to follow suit, and I think I can do that.”
- Listen to the St. Louis Blues press conference below
Hitchcock has agreed to a contract that will run through the 2012-13 season.
He has 534 career wins as coach, his best season coming in 1999 when he won a Stanley Cup in Dallas with former St. Louis Blues star Brett Hull leading the way.
The Stars’ assistant general manager at the time was Doug Armstrong, now the Blues GM.
Payne was hired by the Blues in January 2010.
He lasted 137 games with an overall record of 67 wins, 55 losses and 15 overtime losses.
GM Armstrong praised the man he just put on the unemployment line.
“Davis is an excellent young coach that’s going to have a great career ahead of him,” Armstrong said.
Hitchcock’s first game behind the bench for the Blues comes Tuesday night, home at Scottrade Center against the arch-rival Chicago Blackhawks.
That game can be heard at 7 p.m. on KMOX.
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