ST. LOUIS -- Patrick Kane's shift to center for the Chicago Blackhawks has made quite an impression on new St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
"It’s the worst nightmare for all of us; it’s not good," said Hitchcock, who will make his Blues coaching debut Tuesday night against the Hawks after replacing the fired David Payne on Sunday. "A player who’s that’s strong and that competitive and that patient with the puck, we’ve all kind of dreaded that day when he was going to move into the middle of the ice. It’s not fun."
Hitchcock, who is a veteran of 1,042 NHL games and guided the Dallas Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999, held his first post-morning skate media session at Scottrade Center and praisedHawks coach Joel Quenneville's decision to shift Kane from right wing to center this season. Kane has flourished with four goals and 11 assists in 14 games.
"We were hoping it didn’t come," Hitchcock said of the move. "It’s there (so) you have to deal with it. There was a lot of ‘oh no's) when Joel decided to move him into the middle of the ice. The game isn't played inthe middle of the ice anymore but he’s got enough trust and confidence in his own ability, he knows how to play in there. It’s a nervous defending time when you have a player with that type of skill level and patientce with the puck that can make plays to people."
Hitchcock and Quenneville have faced each other many times during their coaching careers, including recently when Hitchcock was behind the bench for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
"We’re going to kind of laugh and smile at each other," Hitchcock said. "We’ve been doing it for 20 years. And then all hell’s going to break loose."
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