Blues get one more shot to shed label
The question was posed to Ken Hitchcock, and it was a high hard one.
“Does winning or losing Game 7 affect your legacy?” he was asked Sunday.
“I’ve coached 40 years. My legacy is what I am,” Hitchcock said.
“I think I can help with the knowledge I’ve had going through this before ... legacies, they last a week, then you move on to the next one, somewhere else. People look at the big picture. I don’t.”
The Blues’ coach won a Stanley Cup in Dallas, got to the final another time, has a 79-75 career playoff record, and 757 career regular-season wins, fourth best all-time.
His St. Louis team’s legacy, however, is this: a team that can’t win the big game. And until you do, you are what it says you are, which is the flip side of the Chicago Blackhawks, who just win.
The Blues outplayed the Stanley Cup champion Hawks for most of the first four games of this firstround battle.
As Hitchcock says, he’s comfortable in his own skin.
There’s a likelihood he’ll take the bullet with his coaching staff if the Blues don’t win this series because he’s on a one-year contract. The team? They have to shed their label of coming up small (15 times out in Round 1 since 1979-80, 151-189 lifetime in playoffs), even if it’s the Cup champs they’re playing.
So does it come down to X’s and O’s or heart and head now?
“It comes down to being comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Hitchcock said.
“That’s the element ... the knowledge you crave that you hope the players understand. That’s how you get to the next level. It’s enjoying the moment.”
When you’re down to your last crack, after being up 3-1, how can the Blues be enjoying this? They still have a very good team but the Hawks’ play in Game 6 kicked a hole in the underbelly of the club. Some of their veterans did not play well; at the top of the list was defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk.
He gave the puck up on Andrew Ladd’s early goal, and it didn’t get a whole lot better.
This is a very good team, a legit Stanley Cup threat, but can they put back the ghosts of past defeats against a Blackhawks team that’s started to get contributions from the Dale Weises and the Richard Paniks, a revived Ladd, and two-way forward Marian Hossa, who has scored in two straight games?
Chicago’ s Brent Sea brook has played in five Game 7s under Joel Quenneville.
“You never get used to them. When you play in more of them — I don’t know if comfortable’s the word — but you’re not as nervous,” Seabrook said. “I just love playing big games, period.”
There’s none bigger than this one for the Blues.