Well. that escalated quickly. Just the first day back from the All-Star break, a head coach was fired. The St. Louis Blues dropped a complete bombshell Wednesday morning when they announced that they had relieved head coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties. The announcement comes as a shock for many as despite this season’s troubles, the St. Louis Blues have been a model of regular season success as of late.
The Blues, who hired Hitchcock in 2011 to replace fired coach Davis Payne, have been very consistent in the regular season, but shoddy in the playoffs to say the least. This could be what contributed to the firing of Hitchcock, he’s been able to sustain regular season success up until this year, which has provided a shield of sorts for his job.
But, with the lackluster season they’ve been having, the question had to be asked of whether or not it was worth it to keep Hitchcock. The answer the St. Louis front office have given us, is, in a word, no. The move was certainly seen as a shock, mainly because of how established as a head coach Ken Hitchcock was. Within the Western Conference, it’s consensus that both Ken Hitchcock and Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville were the elder statesmen, in that their jobs are (or were in Hitchcock’s case,) stable as long as they maintain the status quo of performance, due to both clubs having a meteoric resurgence in recent years.
It’s also worth noting that this was the final year of Hitchcock’s contract, assumed to be his final season with St. Louis, as well as the fact he is one win shy of tying Al Arbour at number three for all-time wins by an NHL head coach.
So, what contributed to this? It can be argued that St. Louis’ identity as a team was in doubt. That is, the Blues have always been a physical, hard-hitting team to counter the speedy, end-to-end style of their rivals, particularly the Chicago Blackhawks. St. Louis changed its game to the latter with the free agent departure of David Backes.
Another contributing reason of Hitchcock’s firing could be the fact that Jake Allen can’t save a beach ball as of late. Allen under-performing meant that the Blues had to turn to backup goalie Carter Hutton.
Whatever the reason is for Hitchcock’s firing, the Blues decided to promote former Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo to take over behind the bench. Yeo was slated to take control next year after Hitchcock’s final year.
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