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June 21, 2023

Former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock gets call to the Hockey Hall of Fame

Hitchcock started his NHL coaching career with the Flyers as an assistant then ran their bench from 2002-2006 after winning a Stanley Cup in Dallas.

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Ken-Hitchcock-Flyers-Coach-2006-NHL.jpg Jerry Lodriguss/Philadelphia Inquirer / MCT / Sipa USA

Ken Hitchcock arguing a call from behind the Flyers' bench in 2006.

The Hockey Hall of Fame made their calls Wednesday and former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock's phone rang. 

Hitchcock, who spent a combined seven years in Philadelphia first as an assistant coach and later as its head coach, was announced as a member of the 2023 class in the builder category and will be officially inducted in the fall. 

The 71-year old, who was a fixture behind NHL benches for nearly three decades, got his start at the professional level with the Flyers in 1990 before he left in 1993 to coach the Dallas Stars' minor league team. In 1996, he got the call to take over the Stars' bench, then in 1999, he coached them to their first-ever Stanley Cup and had them on the doorstep of another a year later. 

The success wasn't built to last though. The Stars were struggling to start the 2000-01 season, tensions were rising, and Hitchcock was let go, but the Flyers were quick to hire him back that offseason now that he was an established name among NHL head coaches. 

What followed was a 131-73-28-22 run over just shy of four years that included the 2003-04 season when the Flyers surged to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to be stopped a game short of a Cup appearance by John Tortorella's Tampa Bay Lightning (the eventual champion).

But again, that success wasn't built to last. 

The infamous 2004-05 lockout canceled the entire season, and coming out on the other side of it, the Flyers were older and slower in a game that suddenly got much faster. They still managed a playoff spot in 2005-06 but were out in the first round. In 2006-07, they were bad – eventually the league's worst – and Hitchcock was fired in October of that season after a 1-6-1 start. 

His coaching career continued on in Columbus, then St. Louis – where he won the Jack Adams Award in 2012 for coach of the year – another stint in Dallas, and then finally a brief season-long run in Edmonton before hanging up the whistle in 2019. 

Now he'll be receiving one of the game's highest honors alongside other greats from the recent – and not so recent – past in Henrik Lundqvist, Tom Barrasso, Pierre Turgeon, Mike Vernon, Caroline Ouellette, and Pierre Lacroix.

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