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Blues head coach Hitchcock no longer 'offended' by analytics

Dennis Wierzbicki / USA Today

The St. Louis Blues are one of several NHL teams embracing analytics, but head coach Ken Hitchcock wasn't always receptive to the idea.

“It took me a year and a half to get past being offended by somebody telling me to look past the visual," Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"I was (angry) about analytics coming in, but now it’s changed. I see how useful it is ... I found it offensive when I first started. Now I use it for what it is and it’s good, but I had to get past the mental block of that."

During every intermission, Hitchcock gets text messages from an analytics company with a breakdown of the Blues' performance.  

"I take pride in being able to watch a game and understand exactly what happened," the coach said. "This was information that was not making sense to me because my feel and what I wrote down on my paper wasn’t being projected. After I got my stubbornness out of the way, I looked at it and (they were) right, so I bought in."

Despite a first-round playoff exit last season, the Blues were the fourth-best team in the NHL by 5-on-5 Fenwick For percentage (53.7) and sixth in the league in 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage (53.1).

General manager Doug Armstrong is also on board with the statistical revolution.

“We have some specific things that we want," Armstrong said. "There’s some blanket information that is shared by all the teams, then you dig into what intrigues you. The difference between every team is so small, any competitive advantage you can try to get you want to get.”

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