Ken Hitchcock is retiring from coaching after 22 years, leaving the Dallas Stars‘ bench after just one season to become a consultant with the team.
“Ken Hitchcock is an icon when it comes to head coaches, not only in hockey, but across all of sports,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said in a statement Friday. “He poured his whole life into better understanding in-game concepts and strategy, inspiring players and enhancing teams.
“He leaves an indelible mark on the game, and his influence will be felt across the sport for years to come. We want to thank Ken for all that he has given throughout his coaching career.”
Hitchcock, 66, is third in NHL history, with 823 coaching victories, and fourth, with 1,536 games behind the bench. He coached the Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues and then the Stars for a second time during a career that started during the 1995-96 season.
He won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with Dallas and led the Stars back to the Finals in the following season. His 86 playoff victories rank ninth overall.
Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2011-12. His teams won eight division titles and two Presidents’ Trophies as the top regular-season team.
He was fired from the Blues on Feb. 1, 2017, his sixth year with that team. He returned to the Stars, replacing Lindy Ruff as head coach after four seasons.
Under Hitchcock this season, the Stars went 42-32-8 for 92 points, finishing three points out of the wild card in the Western Conference.
One of the most respected defensive coaches in NHL history, he turned around that facet of the team as the Stars went from 29th in the NHL in goals against to seventh. A slew of injuries, in particular to the team’s high-profile offseason acquisitions, helped derail what was expected to be a turnaround year for Dallas.
Nill will now look to hire the third coach of his tenure to take over a team that had the seventh-highest payroll in the NHL this season.