One of the weirder coaching situations in recent memory was abruptly cleared up, as the St. Louis Blues announced the firing of head coach Ken Hitchcock. He’ll be replaced by associate coach Mike Yeo, who was hired to be the “coach-in-waiting” as Hitchcock prepared to step down following this season. No more waiting!
Hitchcock had taken the Blues to the playoffs in each of the last five seasons, and if the season ended right now they’d be in as the second wild card, but that’s not good enough. St. Louis, a trendy Cup pick before the season, has been struggling to stay above water, and is now 3-7-0 in their last 10 games. The all-star break wasn’t enough to get right; the Blues played a sloppy, mistake-filled game in their 5-3 home loss to the Jets last night.
Hitchcock is getting more blame than he deserves for this. There’s one glaring reason the Blues are scuffling, and it has little to do with the head coach:
That’s putrid goaltending, led by Jake Allen. Allen’s been so bad that the team left him at home on their last road trip for a “complete reset.” GM Doug Armstrong said Allen’s problems are mental, and the break was to give him a fresh start. They’re desperate for him to figure things out, because backup Carter Hutton has been every bit as bad.
Hitchcock should be able catch on elsewhere if he wants to—he’s an experienced coach with a track record of success, and it’s hard to stick him with the blame for the Blues’ struggles. At 65, he was the oldest coach in the NHL, but he’s a better option than a number of guys currently behind benches.
Mike Yeo, who was fired by the Wild last year at the urging of Hoppy the Bunny, takes over a talented team that will probably get the usual coaching-change kick in the pants and make the playoffs. That goaltending, though. Woof.