Hitchcock exits on a down note…Yeo enters with high expectations.
Well, we all saw it coming. The play of the St. Louis Blues on the ice left the front office no choice but to make a coaching change. Coach Ken Hitchcock was relieved of his duties Wednesday morning after more than five seasons behind the Blues bench.
Now, normally compiling a 248-124-41 record during your coaching tenure would buy you some time to right the ship, but not in today's NHL. Rumors of dissension in the ranks, among other things, has made the coaching cloud around this team foggier than ever over recent weeks. Rumors of a rift between Hitchcock and key players on this particular Blues squad has seen the team tumble down the Western Conference standings into a top wild card spot while sporting an 11-14-2 record since the beginning of December.
While many hoped the excitement and ambiance of the Winter Classic would get this team pointed in the right direction, we've seen nothing of the sort. This team has stumbled out of the gate during the 2017 portion of the season. The team has looked flat, out of position, and downright disinterested over the past two weeks, outscored 28-14 while losing five of their past six. The goaltending has been an issue. The defense has been an issue. The ability to generate good scoring chances has been an issue. It was the perfect, or imperfect, storm.
While these aren't all the same players, this is most certainly the same team that brought an end to two coaching tenures after it appeared the team was in the midst of a mutiny. Andy Murray and Davis Payne know this story all too well. Obviously, Payne and Murray's resumes don't exactly stand out when compared to that of Hitchcock, but you can't help but see a trend when this team feels they need to show management they are tired of a coach. This isn't always a good thing.
With all of that being said, Mike Yeo gets his promotion eight months early. Like it or not, this needed to happen. This team was done responding to Ken Hitchcock. The fans could see it. The front office could see it. Whether or not the head coach is the problem remains to be seen. There are glaring holes in this roster. Mike Yeo has his work cut out for him, but in recent years some coaching changes have led to increased success on the ice. That's a positive, right?
Look at this list of coaching changes which resulted in the team hoisting Lord Stanley's cup:
- 1999-2000 New Jersey Devils – Out: Robbie Ftorek In: Larry Robinson
2015-16 Pittsburgh Penguins – Out: Mike Johnson In: Mike Sullivan
2011-12 Los Angeles Kings – Out: Terry Murray In: Darryl Sutter
2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins – Out: Michael Therrien In: Dan Bylsma
It would be nice to add the 2016-2017 St. Louis Blues to this list. First, we have to see this team show the fire and passion we saw during last year's playoff run to the Western Conference Finals. Is Mike Yeo the answer? Will Yeo be the spark that ignites the fire under this team in order to make a real playoff run? We will find out in about ten weeks.
Blues NHL Podcast Blogger
Join Jamie Rivers, Darin Kimble, and Jim Cromer to hear more about Hitchcock's exit, Mike Yeo taking over, and the playoff aspirations of the St. Louis Blues on the Thursday edition of the Blues NHL Podcast!