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Hitchcock returns to Philadelphia as Blue Jackets visit Flyers

Nov 24, 2006 - 2:26 PM Columbus (5-13-2) at Philadelphia (5-14-3) 1:00 pm EST

PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Ken Hitchcock did not leave the city of Philadelphia on friendly terms. He returns one month later with his new team, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Hitchcock makes his coaching debut with the Blue Jackets on Friday when they visit the struggling Philadelphia Flyers.

Hitchcock's hiatus from coaching ended Wednesday when the Blue Jackets hired him as a long-term replacement for the fired Gerard Gallant.

"Any discussion of the top coaches in the National Hockey League over the past 10 years has included the name Ken Hitchcock," Columbus general manager Doug MacLean said. "He is a proven winner, a Stanley Cup champion and the ideal coach to help take our franchise to the next level."

Hitchcock, 54, guided the Dallas Stars to the 1999 Stanley Cup and Philadelphia to the 2004 Eastern Conference finals. In his eight full seasons, he has won six division titles and never finished lower than second.

After receiving a contract extension from the Flyers in training camp, Hitchcock was fired October 22 after the team got off to a 1-6-1 start. His all-time record in parts of 11 seasons with Dallas and Philadelphia is 408-249-100.

Hitchcock faces a tough task in turning around the woeful Blue Jackets, who have lost seven straight and hope to avoid tying the longest skid in franchise history.

Columbus looks to rebound from a 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday.

Philadelphia also hopes to bounce back from a tough loss, a 3-2 overtime setback against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

Mike Knuble and Petr Nedved scored for the Flyers, who lost their third straight contest.

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