Hall of Fame coach Ken Hitchcock has ideas for getting Jonathan Huberdeau going

Photo credit:Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
7 months ago
On Monday, legendary coach Ken Hitchcock was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. On Wednesday, he joined Nick Kypreos and Justin Bourne on Sportsnet 590 The Fan in Toronto to discuss a bunch of things.
Among the topics was how Hitchcock would get Calgary Flames forward Jonathan Huberdeau going.
Kypreos asked Hitchcock what he would do 20 years ago, or today even, to help get Huberdeau going:
“You either trust the player or you don’t trust the player. And if you trust the player, then you’ve gotta put him out there in situations where he feels like you have confidence in him. And that means that you’ve got to take risks and put him out there against top players or in critical situations first of all. Not talk about scoring, not talk about points, but talk about game-like situations where you trust this guy, put him out there where it really matters, give him that confidence that he can play against top players, and then let his skill take over after a while.
All of a sudden he isn’t going to wake up and start scoring two points a game. It’s going to be a gradual process. But in the meantime, he’s got to feel like you trust him. And being able to play against top players, putting him out in critical situations, start of games, end of periods, stuff like that, is really, really important because the player’s confidence will grow because he feels like you trust him and then his natural skill will take over.
I’ve always found that when you’re working with players who have lost their confidence, they become very aloof on the ice. There’s games where the saying you’d have is ‘boy, was he ever quiet.’ And you’ve got to bring the noise, and the way to bring the noise is to put him out there when it really matters and see if he can grow from there.”
Huberdeau is in the first year of an eight-year, $84 million deal that runs through the 2030-31 season. Through 15 games of this season, Huberdeau has two goals, seven points and a team-worst minus-13 plus/minus rating. Huberdeau was recently placed on the third line, alongside Mikael Backlund and Blake Coleman, in another attempt to get Huberdeau going by putting him with a pair of reliable two-way forwards.
The Flames are back in action on Thursday night when they host the Vancouver Canucks.

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