Blues coach Ken Hitchcock says 20th NHL season will be his last

Invigorated by the breakthrough postseason turned in by theSt. Louis Blues, head coach Ken Hitchcock is returning forthe 2016-17 season. The Blues announced a new one-year deal for the veteran coach and Stanley Cup winner.

But after next season, he's done behind the bench.

During his press conference in St. Louis, Hitchcock announced that the 2016-17 season will be his final season coaching in the NHL.

"I'm not coaching after this year," Hitchcock said, leaving the door open for other options besides coaching. "I don't know if I'm going to retire."

Hitchcock guided the Blues to the Western Conference finals this year following a regular season in which St. Louis finished with 107 points, the fourth-highest total in franchise history. Four of the top five regular-season finishes in St. Louis franchise history have come with Hitchcock behind the bench.

But the 12-month grind of being a head coach and the constant work a coach has to do to improve and keep up with the changes in the game is more than the 64-year-old Hitchcock wants to commit to beyond this season.

"If I'm not going to get better in the offseason, I'm doing a disservice," Hitchcock said. "I'm ready to go for next year. I'm excited. This is an unbelievable group of guys with a lot of potential."

Next season will be Hitchcock's 20th as an NHL head coach. He won the Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999 and has a career record of 757-453-194. He ranks fourth all-time in regular-season wins and is likely headed to the Hall of Fame when he's done.

Hitchcock hopes there will be one more championship on the resume before gives up coaching, and he left this postseason feeling optimistic about the Blues' ability to contend next year.

"There's a lot of potential for growth left in our team," he said. "When you break through the ceiling, the potential is unlimited."

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