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Game #54 – Hawks vs. Oilers Douchebag Du Jour: He Can’t Be Killed

There’s no limit to how much you can blame Peter Chiarelli for what he did to the Oilers and some of the prime years of Connor McDavid. Run CMD should be carving out memories in April and May that we’ll keep forever, and yet he’ll be in the foursome ahead of you again, most likely. Chiarelli’s biggest problem was a lack of forward, or new, or progressive ideas. He was buried in the idea of hockey in the 90s, where you basically needed an axe-murderer on every line. And yet another one was hiring Ken Hitchcock to try and put out the inferno he created.

Look, Hitchcock lives in Edmonton and was sitting around not doing anything, so he was accessible and bored. It’s not that much out of his life to take the job, and he has nothing to lose. It’s that he was asked that’s so galling.

We have to keep stressing it every time he shows up against the Hawks, but since the Great Lockout of ’05, Ken Hitchcock has no success to speak of. The Flyers booted him quickly when he couldn’t adjust his team to the new ways of the game. The Jackets made the playoffs once, and never won a game. The Blues won three series in five years. And sure, the Blues never finished lower than second in the division, giving him something of a mini-Boudreau record, but this is the sport where no one really cares what your regular season marks are. The Stars missed the playoffs with him.

Hitch will batten things down and no team of his will ever give up too much. If the goalie he has plays really well, they’ll rack up regular season points. But they don’t create enough. They never have. Good teams get up the ice quickly and carry the puck. Can you ever picture a Hitchcock team doing that? Would you fuck. Hitch limits creativity to the defensive end, and any player making a turnover above the red line is sent to a gulag he has built next to the dressing room. Even if the Oilers had the horses to do that, which they should in some form with Klefbom and Nurse, they’re already running in place.

Hitchcock keeps falling upwards, or at least sideways, which given his shape is a real trick. He’s been Mike Babcock’s assistant on two Olympic teams and World Cup team, and you really have to ask why. What are his accomplishments other than just being around like the guy in front of the CVS? What’s so visionary about his system? His contemporary, Joel Quenneville, coached both before and after that lockout, has a bursting trophy-case. And the players he helped develop were upset he was gone. Vladimir Tarasenko threw a three-day rave when Hitch was fired. Seguin and Benn weren’t far behind. Rick Nash ran to New York.

This has to be his last stop, but in the NHL no one ever truly dies.

 

Game #54 Preview Suite

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Douchebag Du Jour

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Lineups & How Teams Were Built

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