When Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of the Dallas Stars and later the Columbus Blue Jackets, he was the enemy. It was clear the dude was intense and his teams played hard. Oh, and he never met a meal he didn't like.
We here at Game Time, we're not too proud to take the low road. If there's an easy joke, we'll make it. If there's a cheap shot, we'll take it. My one wish is for Mike Danton to come back to the league and not with the Blues. The jokes, as they say, would write themselves. If that makes us uncouth and the guys you wish didn't find out about the party when we show up uninvited and probably a little drunk, so be it. We know our place in the universe and we embrace it.
So when it was announced that Davis Payne was fired on Sunday and his replacement was a guy we compared with Jabba The Hut, it was a little awkward. We said all those nasty things about him because he represented the other team. Now he was with our team. Does that mean fat jokes are off limits? Gallagher and I traded emails. We were torn. And then we ran two things in the paper which kind of give away his decision (he owns the copier, I just write here). First, this top 11 list:
Top 11 Reasons Ken Hitchcock Got The Job
11. He had a strong showing in the pie eating portion of the interview.
10. His IQ is nearly as big as his jacket size.
9. He bleeds blue. Well, blueberry jelly.
8. If he can make Brett Hull play defense, he might get a horse to deal cards.
7. The Blues needed an anchor for the tug-o-war at the annual NHL company picnic.
6. If he can get Columbus into the playoffs, he might be able to fix the economy.
5. The coach search committee meetings were at Old Country Buffet and they kept running into him.
4. Apparently Mike Keenan wasn't interested.
3. He might have gone back to Columbus and made them better. Ok, probably not.
2. He does a great Captain Kangaroo impersonation.
1. If he can get the Blues deep in the playoffs, he might be able to cure cancer.
And on the page where we run the B.J. Crombeen and Roman Polak jokes of the day, we ran jokes under the heading "Our Coach Is So Huge..." with the following entries:
Our coach is so huge, he jumped into the air and got stuck.
Our coach is so huge, he looked at the menu and said, "Yes."
Our coach is so huge, when he went to the movies, he sat next to everyone.
Poor taste? Probably. A bit of truth mixed with cheap shots? Absolutely. But here's the difference between his days in Dallas and Columbus and the present day. When we poked at his weight then, we were trying to be mean. We wanted to project negative feelings at the guy. Now, he's one of the family.
I make some of the harshest jokes about the Answer Man, Gallagher, Gift and those other people who don't write nearly as much as us, whatever their names are. We can call him a fat bastard because he's our fat bastard.
And if any Hawks or Wings or Preds fans take their shots, we'll defend Hitchcock vigorously. Fuck those guys. How dare they talk about his weight. Go make fun of Barry Trotz and his imaginary neck in Nashville or Mike Babcock's vagina (irony alert). (Joel Quenneville's stache is magical, though)
Hitchcock is ours now, every last pound of him.