Veteran National Hockey League coach Ken Hitchcock will be joining the staff of the Princeton men’s hockey team as a volunteer assistant coach over the next few weeks as the Tigers prepare for their regular-season opener on Oct. 29 vs. St. Cloud State. During the NHL lockout, Hitchcock has traveled around the nation, working with various minor league and junior teams. Princeton will be the first and only college team Hitchcock works with.
Hitchcock is currently the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers and is considered one of the best coaches in the world. Last season was his first in Philadelphia as he led the Flyers to a 45-20-13-4 record and a berth in the NHL playoffs.
“This will be a tremendous opportunity for the student-athletes and coaching staff,” says Princeton head coach Guy Gadwosky. “Coach Hitchcock is widely regarded as one of the top hockey coaches in the world and this will be an invaluable experience for all of us.”
Hitchcock’s working with the Tigers came about thanks to a phone call from Gadowsky to Hitchcock this fall.
“I gave Coach Hitchcock a call one afternoon to ask him a few questions,” says Gadowsky. “I knew him from back in Edmonton and he is a very nice person. He has always been helpful to me in the past and he offered to come up and help us out.”
Hitchcock most recently served as the associate head coach with the Canadian National team, which won the World Cup of Hockey this summer. Hitchcock served as head coach of the Dallas Stars for parts of seven seasons (1995-96 to 2001-02), compiling a 277-166-60 record in 503 regular season games for a .610 winning percentage. The Stars qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his five full seasons as head coach and he registered a 47-33 record in 80 playoff games. He led the Stars to five consecutive Division championships (1996-97 through 2000-01), two Presidents’ Trophies as “the club finishing the regular season with the best overall record” (1997-98 and 1998-99), two Western Conference Championships (1998-99 and 1999-2000) and one Stanley Cup Championship (1998-99). He holds the Stars franchise records for most career regular season wins by a coach (277), most career playoff wins (47), highest regular season winning percentage by a coach (.610) and highest playoff winning percentage by a coach (.588).
Hitchcock has been nominated for the Jack Adams Award as “the NHL coach adjudged to have contributed the most to his team’s success” three consecutive seasons, following the 1996-97 through 1998-99 seasons. He coached at the NHL’s All-Star Game for three straight seasons (1997 through 1999). In the 1998-99 season, Dallas set team records for most wins (51), most points (114) and highest percentage in a season (.695). During the 1996-97 season, his first full campaign as the Stars’ head coach, Hitchcock guided Dallas to a first-place finish in the Central Division, making Dallas only the ninth team in NHL history to go from last place to first place in a division in one season, and their 38-point improvement from the previous season was tied for the fifth best in League history.
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Hitchcock served as head coach of Dallas’ International Hockey League affiliate, the Kalamazoo Wings/Michigan K-Wings for three seasons, from the 1993-94 season until being named Stars’ head coach on January 8, 1996. Prior to joining the Stars’ organization, Hitchcock served three seasons as an assistant coach with the Flyers (1990-91 through 1992-93). Hitchcock has guided every professional team that he has served as head coach to the playoffs in every full season that he has been at the helm.
Hitchcock joined the Flyers after six seasons as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League from 1984-85 through 1989-90. His .693 winning percentage as head coach at Kamloops is the second highest in the history of the WHL (291-125-15). He was named the WHL’s Coach of the Year following the 1986-87 and 1989-90 seasons. He was named the Top Coach in all of Canadian Major Junior Hockey after the Blazers won the WHL title and finished third at the Memorial Cup in 1990. Hitchcock’s international experience also includes serving as an assistant coach for the Team Canada team that captured the gold medal at the 1987 World Junior Championships.