Hitch a free ride?

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:57 PM ET

With money in the bank and time on his hands, it would be understandable if Ken Hitchcock took it easy and enjoyed a break from the calling he's made his career since 1974.

Understandable? Yes. Hitchcock? No.

Coaches coach. And, as anybody who knows a lick about the bench boss from Edmonton will tell you, Hitchcock is a career coach - even if the Philadelphia Flyers relieved him of that duty Oct. 22.

The Flyers have Hitch drawing a salary - a tidy seven figures from the three-year deal he signed in September - as a scout.

SCOUTING AROUND

A scout with a 408-249-100 regular-season record, a Stanley Cup ring with the Dallas Stars in 1999, three straight nominations for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's top coach and a resume as long as Ed Snider's bank account is deep.

Scout, my eye.

Hitch is a coach.

"It's time for other guys to shine," says Hitchcock, putting the best possible spin on an unwanted hiatus.

"It's time to take the back of the bus and wait my turn. That's what I'm going to do."

Hitchcock, 54, has spent pretty much every waking moment since 1974 behind the bench in one league or another.

Be it with the Sherwood Park Chain Gang, the Kamloops Blazers of the WHL, a minor-league stint in the now-defunct IHL with Kalamazoo, seven seasons in Dallas and parts of four more in Philadelphia, coaching's been his thing.

He hasn't been out of work since he got flushed in the City of Brotherly Love as an assistant coach with the Flyers in 1993. Even then, he was unemployed for about 15 minutes before he hooked up with Team Canada.

"I went from being fired the third week of January to being at the Olympics four days later," laughs Hitchcock.

"This is a little bit different. It already feels like a long time."

This back-of-the-bus deal, then, is not Hitchcock's cup of tea.

Neither is this scouting aside he's undertaken. For the time being - until somebody calls up Snider or interim GM Paul Holmgren and offers Hitchcock a coaching job - it'll have to be his hockey fix.

He's got to be twitching already.

"I'm going into the woodwork. I'll wait my turn," insists Hitchcock, not sounding altogether convincing. "I'm going to do my stuff and try to help out the Flyers and Homer (Holmgren) as best I can."

With a career winning percentage of .609 before the 1-6-1 start that cost him his job and prompted Bobby Clarke to resign, Hitch doesn't need to work the phones or don a sandwich board to get a job. Besides, that's not his style.

"I have no idea how that works," said Hitchcock, asked if the Flyers would let him out of his contract for a coaching position elsewhere.

"Any discussions about that would go through management or ownership."

At some point, somebody will pick up the phone. Look at the standings and you can see the hot spots.

What about a return to junior hockey, specifically the WHL?

HOMEWARD BOUND?

More specifically, here at home in Edmonton? The possibilities are many. Somebody will come calling. Take that to the bank.

"It's not about how much I can stand, it's about waiting your turn," Hitchcock said. "There's only 30 (NHL) jobs in the world ... you just go to the back of the bus and wait your turn.

"My job now is to let other people shine. I know how difficult it is and I know what you go through when you get fired. I don't wish it on anybody."


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