Dallas Stars coach Ken Hitchcock announced his retirement Friday, exactly one year after he was hired to coach the team a second time.
Hitchcock ends his 22-year career as the third-winningest coach in NHL history. He will serve as a consultant for the team he led to its only Stanley Cup championship in 1999. He was hired back with the Stars last April, replacing Lindy Ruff, whose four-year contract wasn’t extended.
The 66-year-old says it was "the right time to step away and let the younger generation of coaches take over."
Hitch thanks the players, organizations, and fans in letter: 'I will forever be grateful'. https://t.co/Q7EFSrxbpK
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) April 13, 2018
He returned to Dallas this season after 15 years away. He first took the helm in 1996, leading the Stars to the playoffs for five straight years before being fired in 2002. He then coached the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets before moving to St. Louis to coach the Blues.
General Manager Jim Nill hoped Hitchcock could get the Stars back to the playoffs, but a late-season slump kept them out for the second straight year and the eighth time in 10 seasons. The Stars finished the 2017-18 regular season with a record of 40-32-8.
"Ken Hitchcock is an icon when it comes to head coaches, not only in hockey, but across all of sports," Nill said in a statement. "He poured his whole life into better understanding in-game concepts and strategy, inspiring players and enhancing teams. He leaves an indelible mark on the game and his influence will be felt across the sport for years to come. We want to thank Ken for all that he has given throughout his coaching career."
Hitchcock's 823 wins are third all-time behind Scotty Bowman and Joel Quenneville. He's fourth in games with 1,536.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.