In Defence Of Ken Hitchcock

It’s been a week since the Leafs beat the St. Louis Blues 4-1 and the people are still debating whether or not Ken Hitchcock should have pulled goalie Jake Allen after P.A Parenteau scored to make it 3-1. What followed was this exchange:

(Skip to around 49 seconds)

If you haven’t guessed from the title, I’m taking Hitchcock’s side on this one. Before you say mean things to me lets go through the goals Allen gave up before getting the hook so you at least understand my thought process.

Toronto Maple Leafs 1-St. Louis Blues 1

Leafs tied the game 1:17 to go in the first period and it’s not a great goal if you’re Allen. Komarov comes over the blue line, throws the puck to the net, and Allen makes a mess of it. If you follow hockey you’ve become accustomed to the idea that a goalies job is to make the first save and after that it’s up to his teammates to clear the rebound. This is only partially true. Your job is to control your rebounds to give your team a chance to clear it. You should not be letting rebounds fall right in front of you which is what Allen does. The fact that Komarovs shot comes from a bit of a distance makes it even worse. Allen has to find a way to swallow that puck up or at least knock the puck into the corner (you even see him try to swat the puck in the corner and miss). Now don’t get me wrong, the Blues’ defence does a terrible job helping out their goalie. Nazem Kadri gives up 4 inches and 24 pounds to Jay Bouwmeester and wins the battle for the loose puck. But Allen should have done a better job with the initial shot and he knows it

Toronto Maple Leafs 2-St. Louis Blues 1

You’d have to be crazy to put this one on Jake Allen. Roman Polak lets an absolute cannon go from the point (I didn’t even know he could do that) and Brad Boyes tips it in because he’s obviously some sort of hockey playing ninja with the reflexes  of a cat. Also what was Blues defence man Colton Parayko doing here? when he’s not standing right in front of his goalie he looks kind of lost. He would have been far more affective if he had looked to his left, seen Brad Boyes, and tied up his stick .

Toronto Maple Leafs 3-St. Louis Blues 1

So this another one of those goals where the Blues’ defence does essentially nothing to help out their goalie but Allen himself should have done better. P.A Parenteau back hands the puck along the ice from the hash marks and beats Allen through the legs. I don’t care how bad your defence is playing in front of you, that goal should never go in. I know for myself if I let in a goal like that I would be more upset with myself than I am with any player on my team. As a starting goalie in the NHL, Jake Allen should hold himself accountable for 2 out of the 3 goals he allowed. His defence didn’t do him any favours but his job is to bail them out when they make mistakes. It’s not fair but that’s what he signed up for and he didn’t do his job that night

So after giving up 3 goals on 22 shots Jake Allen’s night is done and Brian Elliot comes on relief. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Brian Elliot only actually played 2:18 before Allen went back in to finish the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen before and I don’t like it

There’s an old saying that says “the inmates will not run the asylum.” It basically means that the employees are making the decisions rather than the boss. On a hockey team there has to be a dialogue between the coaches and players as far as the direction of the team but the coach is still the boss. Whether Ken Hitchcock was making the right call or not he is the one in charge. Imagine somebody showed up your boss at the place you work at. Now imagine they did it while a national audience was tuned in. Like it or not professional athletes have to be conscious of their image and how that image impacts the team that they represent.

There are numerous reasons Hitchcock might have elected to pull him. He may not have liked the way he was playing and felt he wasn’t giving his team the best chance to win. It’s entirely possible that it was done to light a fire under the rest of the team which is something coaches do. It’s also possible he did it instead of using his timeout because Allen went back in just over 2 minutes later.

Jake Allen is a competitive guy or he wouldn’t have made it to this stage in his career. He plays in the best hockey league in the world and you don’t get their without being competitive. There is a time in a place to question a coaching decision but it should be done behind close doors. This was the 2nd time in as many starts that Allen had been pulled and he let his emotions get the best of him.

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Author: Jared Clarkson

I'm a graduate of the Journalism Broadcast program at Sheridan College.

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