Stick with Hitch: Blues bring coach back for one more season

Ken Hitchcock will be positioned behind the Blues' bench for a fifth season.

Jerome Miron/Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — The Blues will have a familiar face behind the bench for the 2015-16 season.

The team announced today that coach Ken Hitchcock will return for a fifth campaign, thanks to a new one-year deal with the club.

The news comes a week after the Blues were rumored to be in-and-out of the race to secure former Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs last Wednesday. In a conference call with reporters the following day, general manager Doug Armstrong said the Blues were still in communication with Hitchcock, and overall seemed to indicate the coach would be back.

"We’re both still discussing what we need to do to get better," Armstrong said at the time, though he didn’t commit publicly to Hitchcock’s return.

Overall, Hitchcock’s resume with the organization is impressive. The Blues have two Central Division titles and the NHL’s best regular-season record at 175-79-27. The team’s Achilles’ heel remains the postseason, where the Blues have made it to the second round only once during Hitchcock’s tenure. Today’s decision, however, answered at least one looming question for the club following its third consecutive first-round playoff exit: Did the head coach, or did the roster, need a shakeup?

It remains to be seen what changes, if any, general manager Doug Armstrong will make to the roster as the offseason continues. But today’s news shows that, whatever those may be, the man behind the bench has the organization’s vote of confidence.

You can follow Elisabeth Meinecke on Twitter at @lismeinecke or email her at ecmeinecke@gmail.com.