Ken Hitchcock believes he has 'the tools and the expertise' to still guide Blues

Ken Hitchcock believes he has 'the tools and the expertise' to still guide Blues

Have the St. Louis Blues gone from a team with Stanley Cup aspirations to one that just wants to make the playoffs?

Probably not, but the opening messaging of Ken Hitchock’s news conference, announcing the coach had been re-upped for a year by the Blues had that weird kind of feel.

“I know there’s going to be questions about next year’s playoffs, but unless we come prepared to work in September, that won’t be an issue for us because we won’t make the playoffs,” general manager Doug Armstrong said. “We have to come ready to play. We have to prepare.”

The Blues have been postseason flameouts with Hitchcock as coach. They haven’t made it past the second-round, in spite of having some dominant teams in the regular season.

There were questions about Hitch’s ability to push this group onwards and upwards, especially after such a disappointing loss to the Minnesota Wild last playoff.

“This is a really good team trying to become a great team. I think I have the tools and expertise to help them along the way,” Hitchcock said.

Honestly, that sounds like a comment that should have been made in his news conference that introduced him to St. Louis in 2011-12 as its new head coach. Not a presser saying he signed another one-year contract.

With the Blues, the question surrounds whether Hitchcock is the problem, or #theplayers on the roster.

Via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Hitchcock said one thing that would have to change for next season is the team would have to be faster. He said that the four fastest teams in the league are the ones still playing. He thinks that can be done with the players currently on the roster. Armstrong said some roster change is inevitable after this season and conversations are gradually starting between the Blues and other teams as more and more teams have become part of the postseason

St. Louis has gone into its last several playoffs as a Stanley Cup favorite, and couldn't seem to find a way to beat its opponent that almost always ended up on a deep run. This tended to mostly be Chicago or Los Angeles.

This year was especially alarming, since the Blues were just flat-out beat by the Minnesota Wild – not a team that went far like the Blackhawks or Kings.

Also, Hitchcock’s goaltender tinkering between Jake Allen and Brian Elliott didn’t help the Blues that series.

The player voice of the Blues didn't seem to have a problem with The Hitch again via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

I've got no issues with him," Blues captain David Backes said. "Does he ride guys hard and has he been on my case at times, where it's made me angry? Yes. But he does it in the light of trying to make our team better, trying to make each individual player better.

"I think if you get caught up in those individual moments at the time you're under the gun, having an interview, those comments come out. But when you take a step back and you realize, 'Oh that's why he was all over me because I was not being as productive as I could be,' he's very effective."

Ultimately did the Blues need another taste of disappointment to set them up for success – like say the Anaheim Ducks? Or is this simply a group that can’t get over the proverbial hump – like the San Jose Sharks?

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!