Ken Hitchcock's battle
Brian at Hockeybird was understandably upset with Philadelphia Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock's conduct during a recent game against his New York Rangers, but I think the fowl goes too far:
I don't want to get too personal and judgmental here, but Ken Hitchcock is a big fat guy. Just enormous. Corpulent. How fat is he? Every time someone walks around him, they get one year older. He's huge. Fat and flabby. Just a big bowl of chub.That's just not fair. And I'll tell you why.
An Edmonton native, Hitchcock was in his early 30s when the Oilers won their first Stanley Cup. Then a man of modest means, Hitchcock sold hockey equipment and coached a Sherwood Park, Alta., minor hockey team.
As a kids team's coach, no one was better than Hitch. Over a decade, his teams put up a 575-69 record and, in 1984, he was named the Alberta minor hockey coach of the year. That's when a new team in Canadian junior hockey, the Kamloops Blazers, came calling.
Hitchcock coached the Blazers to a 52-17-2 record in his first season, and over the next six seasons, he became a hockey legend in the hockey-mad, blue-collar city. Kamloops won 291 times and lost just 125 games.
At the time, Hitchcock weighed nearly 500 pounds.
Now, the people of Kamloops knew a brilliant hockey mind when they saw it, but they also knew it was unlikely an NHL team would want such an 'enormous' man behind their bench. And Hitch knew it, too.
In 1989 at age 38, Hitchcock shed nearly 200 pounds through an intense exercise program and controlled diet. The then-struggling Philadelphia Flyers hired him as an assistant coach for the 1990-91 season.
When Hitchcock won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Dallas Stars, nine years after leaving the Blazers organization, people in Kamloops were overjoyed that he had done it. The city knew, more than anyone, the ridicule he had gone through in those difficult years behind the bench in the old barn that was the Memorial Arena. The city also knew it owed Hitch for the foundation he built, the work he did in putting a hockey dynasty in the Interior of British Columbia.
They also knew Hitchcock as a wonderful human being.
At the moment, he weighs close to 220 pounds and is one of the most decorated coaches in the NHL. He's overcome more than most NHL fans know, and for that, the last thing he deserves is more cheap shots.
UPDATE Mike at Flyers Fan Central adds more here.