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Hitchcock discounts flap with G Halak

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ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said it was no big deal that he and goalie Jaroslav Halak argued about playing time during the playoffs, calling it an ``everyday occurrence.''

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Hitchcock and general manager Doug Armstrong both said Sunday that he didn't anticipate major roster changes after the Blues squandered a 2-0 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings and lost four in a row against the Los Angeles Kings after taking a 2-0 series lead.

The Blues were the fourth seed in the Western Conference this season, but Hitchcock said it was better overall than last year's team that had the No. 2 seed and got swept in the second round by Los Angeles. Hitchcock said the roster might change ``five to 10 percent.''

``What we need to do is become a better player in the offseason, not a better athlete,'' Hitchcock said.

Addressing Halak, Hitchcock said he'd have been surprised if the goalie was unhappy about not getting used in the playoffs. Halak wasn't at the Scottrade Center when the locker room opened to media.

``With Jaro that's an everyday occurrence like arguments and discussions that go on with players and playing time that was discussed in the meeting today,'' Hitchcock said. ``If he wasn't disappointed I'd be surprised. I don't care. If you're under contract, you're ready to play.''

Halak is among three goalies in the mix with Brian Elliott, who started all six games against the Kings, and rookie Jake Allen.

``I think anything can happen,'' Armstrong said. ``It was a difficult year, both Elliott and Jaro, and I think Jake took great advantage of it,'' Armstrong said. ``He's proven to us now that he has to be part of the equation.

``So, it's a cloudy issue right now to be honest with you because of how the season progressed.''

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Hitchcock and Halak clashed after the goalie was late for a meeting prior to Game 4. Halak didn't play in the playoffs after recovering from a groin injury late in the season.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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