Ken Hitchcock Feeling the BluesFebruary 1, 2017
Ken Hitchcock was fired by the St. Louis Blues wednesday morning after a 5-3 home loss to Winnipeg tuesday night. This was the Blues 5th loss in their last 6 games, with a record of 24-21-5, the Blues are holding the second wild card spot with Calgary, Vancouver, and Dallas right on their heels. Hitchcock was set to retire at the end of the season but it looks like he will be retiring early.
Hitchcock, 65, has been coaching since 1995 with the Dallas Stars, the Flyers, the Blue Jackets, and of course the St. Louis Blues. Over the 20 plus years he has coached he has only reached two Stanley Cup Finals and both were with Dallas in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. He won the first year he went and lost the following year. His 781 career regular season wins only trail Scotty Bowman (1244), Joel Quenneville of the Blackhawks (801 for now), and Al Arbour (782) for the most.
With St. Louis, Hitchcock won the Jack Adams Award for NHL coach of the year in 2012. His team that year won 43 games out of the 69 that he coached and were 1st in the Central Division. He took his team to the Conference Semifinals and were swept by the Los Angeles Kings who would go on to win the Cup. On March 12, 2015, Hitchcock won his 700th career regular season game against a former team he coached, the Flyers 1-0. Throughout his career he has been fired four times, one for every team he has coached. He has won 8 division titles and missed the playoffs only three times.
The Blues will move on the to associate coach, Mike Yeo, as the Head Coach. Doug Armstrong, the Blues GM said he hopes the former Minnesota Wild Coach will be able to save the season. Yeo’s mission is to clean the Blues up. To turn the season around he needs to fix their defensive play and find a way to get starting goalie Jake Allen back to his normal self. The Trade deadline is approaching so it will be interesting to see whether Yeo feels he can compete with the team he has now or if he will have to make a trade to boost his team to the playoffs.
If Allen doesn’t find his form, the Blues will have to look to trade for a goalie. Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins or Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning could be solid trade targets. Fleury’s contract isn’t up until 2019 while Bishop is up at the end of the season. Both players have no movement clauses, so it would be up to them to lift them so they could be moved.
Hitchcock is set to retire at the end of the season, but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of him. There are plenty of teams out there who could use a fresh new face in their organization.
Written by Chase Barnhart