Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Ken Hitchcock Fired by Blues

Mike Yeo was expected to become the next coach of the St. Louis Blues, but not this soon.

Ken Hitchcock was fired by the Blues today and replaced by Yeo, with Hitchcock just one win of tying Al Arbour on the all-time NHL win list for coaches.

The Blues made the announcement on Wednesday morning following Tuesday's 5-3 loss to Winnipeg, which dropped the team to 24-21-5. St. Louis is clinging to the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference after losing seven of their last ten. They have allowed 157 goals this season, fifth-worst in the NHL.

Yeo was brought in as the natural successor to Hitchcock, who had announced that he would stepping down at the end of the season. Many believed that the 65-year-old Hitchcock would head for another club after his tenure in St. Louis, but he has repeatedly made comments that signify he needs some time away from coaching. "What's wrong with going off the grid for a while," he said during a radio appearance on Hockey Central earlier this month.

With the Blues struggling to remain in playoff contention and their team defense uncharacteristically poor, General Manager Doug Armstrong elected to expedite the legendary coach's departure.

Hitchcock, the head coach in St.Louis since Nov. 8, 2011, led the Blues to a 248-124-41 record over six seasons. Hitchcock leaves with 781 NHL victories, which keeps him one short of tying Arbour for No. 3 on the all-time list of regular-season coaching victories.

"It's my responsibility why we're off track, and it's my responsibility to get them back on track," Armstrong told media.

The Blues also fired goalie coach Jim Corsi, replacing him with Martin Brodeur and Ty Conklin, who will share the goalie coaching duties for the rest of the season.

"I am up here with some mixed emotions," said new coach Yeo. The first thing I have to do is thank Hitch. He was nothing but amazing to me. I learned a great deal from (Hitch) and I'm very appreciative. I feel extremely bad that I'm sitting up here today."

43-year-old Yeo was the head coach of the Minnesota Wild from 2011 to 2016. He won a Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Pittburgh Penguins in 2009.