The St. Louis Blues dropped a bombshell on Wednesday morning, as they’ve fired head coach Ken Hitchcock. He’ll be replaced by associate coach Mike Yeo.
Yeo, who joined the Blues during the off-season, was supposed to take over the head coaching job from Hitchcock after this season, but the Blues’ recent struggles have changed that.
Including last night’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the Blues have lost five of their last six and they closed out of the month of January with a 5-8 record.
Hitchcock joined the Blues on Nov. 8, 2011 and he’ll leave the team with a 248-124-41 regular season record. St. Louis made the playoffs in each year since since he took over. Last spring’s trip to the Western Conference Final was the furthest they went under Hitchcock’s watch.
In hindsight, it probably wasn’t a great idea to announce Hitchcock’s replacement before the start of his final season behind the bench, but that isn’t the only reason the Blues have struggled in 2016-17.
Losing key veterans like David Backes, Troy Brouwer and Brian Elliott in one off-season has been difficult to overcome. Also, their goaltending has been borderline embarrassing of late, as Jake Allen and Carter Hutton haven’t been getting the job done with any consistency.
Of the 30 NHL teams, St. Louis has the third-worst goals-against per game at 3.12 (only Colorado and Arizona are worse) and they’re at the bottom of the league in team save percentage at .887.
Now, it’s up to Yeo to figure out how to get his goaltending straightened out before it’s too late. The former Wild bench boss spent fire years as head coach in Minnesota. He left there with a 197-153-49 record.
Under Yeo, the Wild missed the playoffs just once, but they never went further than the second round. His first game as head coach will be at home against Toronto on Thursday night.
The Blues currently own the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
General manager Doug Armstrong will meet the media at 10 a.m. CT.
Here’s a hot take on the firing: