Flyers end suspense, give coach Hitchcock extension

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock signed a
new three-year contract with the Flyers through 2008-09.

Hitchcock, entering his fourth season, is 130-77-39 in the
regular season with Philadelphia. He led the Flyers to the
conference finals in 2004, where they lost to the Tampa Bay
Lightning, who later won the Stanley Cup.

Hitchcock said negotiations with general manager Bob Clarke
lasted "only about 30 seconds."

"The important thing for me was, when you put the work in and
make the decision to play younger players to build the fabric for
years, you want to be around when they mature," Hitchcock said.

Clarke said the contract extension was the "final piece of
stability" the team wanted at the beginning of training camp.

"I think if you're a coach, there has to be some comfort level
and a commitment from the organization, too," Clarke said. "But I
don't think the contract makes the coach better. He's earned it."

In 10 NHL seasons with Dallas and Philadelphia, Hitchcock is
407-243-99. He is 66-51 in playoff games and won the Stanley Cup
with Dallas in 1999.

Hitchcock, who is 54, knows he has a challenge working with a
rebuilding team, but insists his contract situation wouldn't have
been a distraction.

"I didn't think that much about it [the contract]," he said.
"I live pretty much week to week. Nine months is a long term for
me. That's just the way I live the season."