PEORIA, Ill – Forgive Ken Hitchcock for being a little restless right now. The Head Coach of the St. Louis Blues is a busy man, but nowhere as busy as he’d like to be.
He is keeping an eye on their AHL affiliate in Peoria and whenever they play within driving distance of St. Louis and meetings with Rivermen Head Coach Dave Allison weekly. In St. Louis, he’s been conducting youth hockey coaching clinics.
All things considered, he’d rather be coaching the Blues, right now.
I caught up with “Hitch” at a recent Rivermen game. He says he’s trying to be prepared for a resolution to the labor issue and get back to playing hockey. When they do, though, he says it is definitely going to be a strange situation.
“Training camp is typically several weeks of broad teaching with 60 players. This year, once we get the word, it is going to be much shorter, with fewer players. The focus isn’t going to be on teaching and conditioning, now, it will be on getting ready quick.” Hitchcock said. “We are just going to try and expect the unexpected.”
“We had an idea of where we wanted to go when the season started,” Hitchcock said, “That is now an evolving plan. It depends on who is ready to play when the lockout ends. Who is ready, physically and mentally?”
Hitchcock compared a full season of NHL games to running a marathon, “Now it is going to be down to a sprint. Who comes out and is ready? Who can win right away? That is where the focus is going to be.”
The Rivermen will play a big part of that, Hitchcock believes, “These guys are playing now and in game shape. We will be looking for who can help the team immediately.”
But Hitchcock isn’t looking for any one thing from the AHL players, right now, ”We just want these guys to get a lot of quality minutes. I don’t talk about individuals much (with Rivermen Head Coach Dave Allison), we talk about the big group and big picture…how they play as a team and within ‘the system’.”
So when the lockout does end, it looks likely that the Blue Note will depend heavily on the Peoria Rivermen to help the Blues move quickly out of the gate. Contact the author at Shaun.Bill@ProHockeyNews.com Follow us on Twitter @prohockeynews