Ken Hitchcock is returning to Dallas.
The former Dallas Stars head coach, who was fired on Feb. 1 by the St. Louis Blues, will return to Texas according to multiple reports on Wednesday morning that were confirmed by WFAA Sports. The team has yet to officially confirm the hire, but they are expected to host a press conference on Thursday.
It’s a hiring that picked up steam over the past couple months as Dallas dropped 30 points in the standings from last season. On Monday, Stars General Manager Jim Nill said he was looking to hire a veteran head coach and had already spoken to three candidates. He also said wanted to move quickly in the process.
It’s a move that should make the Stars more structurally sound. This season, and even last season when Dallas could outscore its problems, the Stars struggled in the defensive end on special teams.
Hitchcock coached in Dallas from 1996 to 2002 and led the Stars to a Stanley Cup in 1999. He is the Stars all-time leader in coaching victories with a 277-154-60-12 record.
Combined Hitchcock has a 781-478-88-111 record. He is one win behind Al Arbour for the third-most wins in NHL history.
Dallas Stars great and NHL Hall-of-Famer Mike Modano tweeted his congratulations to Hitchcock for the apparent hire. "My schedule is pretty open," Modano added.
Congrats Ken Hitchcock on the @DallasStars head coach job. My schedule is pretty open.— Mike Modano (@9modano) April 12, 2017
Hitchcock, 65, coached the Blues the past six seasons and posted a record of 248-124-41. St. Louis had made the playoffs each season and reached the Western Conference final.
Last season the Blues and Stars battled in the second round, with St. Louis ousting Dallas in Game 7 at the American Airlines Center.
He signed a one-year contract in the summer, and Mike Yeo was scheduled to take over as the team’s head coach for the 2017-18 season after joining as the team’s associate head coach for 2015-16.
Dallas parted ways with Lindy Ruff after finishing the season on Saturday with a 34-37-11 record and 79 points. It was the second-lowest point total in a non-lockout season since the Stars franchise re-located from Minnesota to Dallas.
Ruff’s four-year contract expired after this season and the Stars announced in a press release on Sunday that they wouldn’t be offering Ruff an extension.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro