ST. LOUIS — Consider new St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock a fan — and not a fan — of the play of Patrick Kane at center.
“That’s the worst nightmare for all us; it’s not good,” Hitchcock said before the Hawks played the Blues Tuesday. “With a player who is that strong, competitive and patient with the puck, we all kind of dreaded that day when he was going to move to the middle of the ice. When you come with a 1-2 punch like that, it’s not a lot of fun.”
Hitchcock, of course, is talking about Hawks coach Joel Quenneville’s decision to use Jonathan Toews and Kane as his top two centers. While Toews’ line has changed often (click here to read more about it) , Kane has found immediate success with Marian Hossa. The Kane-Hossa combination has been lethal this season.
“We were hoping it didn’t come,” Hitchcock said. “It’s there. You’ve got to deal with it. There was a lot of ‘Oh, no’ when Joel decided to move him in the middle of the ice.
“Joel could have made it a lot of easier if he put Kane and Toews back together. It kind of screws up our plan, but we’ll have to adjust.”
It’s an early test for Hitchcock and the Blues. The game Tuesday will be Hitchcock’s first as the Blues coach. In an unexpected move late Sunday night, St. Louis fired Davis Payne and replaced him with Hitchcock, who is 534-350-88-70 in 1,042 NHL games. He won a Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Dallas Stars.
“I remember always when there is a coaching change, the team comes out strong,” Hossa said. “They want to show the new coach they want to play for him. It’s going to be desperate team. They’ll be ready.”