We were probably naive thinking we might have a definitive answer today about the future of coach Ken Hitchcock with the St. Louis Blues.
This morning GM Doug Armstrong and Hitchcock met with the media. It was locker cleanout day, the last chance to talk to players before dispersing for the summer. Well, most of spring and summer. There was some conjecture that it would be announced that Hitchcock was leaving the team since his contract is expiring. He seemed to get emotional after the series-ending loss. It all added up.
But that's not what happened.
Armstrong basically said the front office understands the team let fans down. He's disappointed, he expected better and they're going to try and fix it. He said decisions will be made, but not today. Reading tweets about Hitchcock said, it sounds over.
According to Lou Korac: "Hitch said he wants to take some time to sit back and reflect with his family." When you start talking about reflecting and having your family help you decide your future, retirement is the topic and not how long of an extension to ask for.
There are 27 NHL head coaches right now (that includes two in New Jersey, oddly). The average age of those 27 men is 52.3, the median is 52. Hitchcock is 63. At age 60, only Bruce Boudreau is also 60 or older. In fact, 17 of the current NHL head coaches are at least 10 years younger. Seven of them are younger than 50.
Mike Yeo is 41, the youngest coach in the league. Is it related that his team beat the team coached by the oldest coach in the league in the first round?
Here are some other snippets we learned through Twitter (the audio will be posted on the Blues' site shortly and added to this post):
- Armstrong has tried to get in touch with Vladimir Sobotka to determine his intentions next season. He'd welcome him back to the team.
- Robert Bortuzzo was injured and Hitchcock said he was reluctant to bring him back in the heat of the series while recovering.
- Neither the coach or general manager regrets starting Jake Allen in the playoffs.
- Armstrong said he sees a goalie tandem of Allen and Brian Elliott next season.
- Getting Vladimir Tarasenko signed to an extension is the No. 1 priority for the offseason.
Armstrong is leaning against blowing up the team and having multiple rookies start. But he also said he's not afraid to make change.
So I don't know if we learned a lot. The team had to say something. The leadership had to be made available. But it's just too soon. Go watch the video of owner Tom Stillman at KMOX yesterday. Look at his face and how he struggles to come up with some words, not that he doesn't know the answer but he's frustrated and he doesn't want to say the wrong thing. The guy is as despondent as we are. Period.
The Bruins had one of these media availabilities after their season ended. And a few days later the general manager was fired. Nothing said today was set in stone. How this team looks today — behind the bench, in the front office or on the ice — doesn't mean that's how it's going to look when the draft happens in June or when free agency opens in July or at the start of training camp in September. It's still April. Yes, that's depressing because we all wanted to be gearing up for a Game 7 tomorrow night, but taking some time to make franchise-defining decisions isn't a bad thing.