Ken Hitchcock agrees to continue as Blues coach

After weeks of speculation over whether Ken Hitchcock would return to the St. Louis Blues, the team announced Tuesday it has reached agreement on a one-year contract with the veteran coach.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The short-term pact comes on the heels of the Blues' disappointing first-round exit from the playoffs this spring.

"This is unfinished business for me," Hitchcock said. "I don't want to coach to coach, I want to coach to win. I couldn't find a better spot."

Both Hitchcock and general manager Doug Armstrong referred to the term "detoxing" since the Blues were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Instead of sweeping personnel changes, they promise increased commitment.

Armstrong said he wouldn't break up the core group that's been in place for several seasons, including captain David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo and Patrik Berglund, just to make a change.

"There is value if we get better players in return," Armstrong said. "No trade is better than a poor trade. We're going to explore improving our team, but it has to make sense."

Heading the list of the team's offseason objectives is re-signing Vladimir Tarasenko, among the NHL goal-scoring leaders, to a long-term deal.

Hitchcock appeared glum at the news conference after the Blues were eliminated in six games by the Minnesota Wild. He was all smiles on Tuesday.

"The emotion when the series was over was 'Get me away from here,'" Hitchcock said. "There was a time when you're not really sure, then it got over-ridden by passion to coach and teach."

Hitchcock said the half-ice game that works so well in the regular season won't work in the playoffs. He wants to see more "reckless" play.

"I really believe in the group, but I also believe if we don't make the internal changes that are necessary, we're going to get passed," Hitchcock said. "The four fastest teams in the NHL are playing right now.

"If Doug doesn't change anybody, we can do that."

After the Blues were dispatched in six games by the Minnesota Wild in the Western Conference quarterfinals, there were questions about whether Hitchcock would keep his job. The Blues were reportedly interested in coach Mike Babcock, as well, though Babcock ultimately chose to sign a monster eight-year, $50 million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The 63-year-old Hitchcock has led the Blues to four straight postseason appearances since joining the club in 2011. His teams have posted the NHL's best regular-season record throughout that span (175-79-27), but have fallen short of expectations in the playoffs despite being tabbed as a perennial contender.

In 2014-15, the Blues won the Central Division with a 51-24-7 record, the third-best mark in franchise history.

Before coming to a one-year agreement with the team, Hitchcock had said that he wanted to huddle with family before making any decision about his future.

Hitchcock, 63, is the NHL's fourth-winningest coach with a record of 708-429-185. He reached the 700-win milestone on March 12. He has the highest winning percentage of any Blues coach in the history of the franchise.

Hitchcock has coached in the NHL for 18 seasons with Dallas, Philadelphia, Columbus and St. Louis, making the postseason 13 times. He led Dallas to the 1999 Stanley Cup championship. He won the Jack Adams Award as the league's best coach in 2012.

He is second all-time in wins among Blues coaches with 175, trailing only Joel Quenneville, who had 307.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.