Why it all unraveled in St. Louis

With the Blues currently sitting 18 points behind division-leading Minnesota, Ken Hitchcock's time at the helm has come to an end. AP Photo/LM Otero

You’re going to hear a lot of terms that typically seem to accompany Ken Hitchcock being fired in the analysis to come Wednesday. "Shelf life" is one. As in, Ken Hitchcock has a shelf life with players, and it ran out in St. Louis.

"Demanding" is another. He is that -- there’s no doubt.

Hall of Famer Bob Gainey, Hitchcock’s GM in Dallas, put it this way when we chatted this weekend: “I had a lot of respect for his ability to dig down and work with individual players and, sometimes against their will, to be better players -- not just accept that ‘this is what I can do.’ He made a lot of players better players.”

One phrase you won’t likely hear is "hands-off," but at his best, he could be. When Hitchcock teams are playing at their absolute peak, he’s not around the players as much. He’s handed those daily reminders that grind players down to his leadership group. When a Hitchcock team reaches a point that they know exactly what he wants every night out, they begin to accept responsibility for making it happen.