The St. Louis Blues are one of the rare teams that have hired a coach-in-waiting. That would be current associate Mike Yeo, who will take over for Ken Hitchcock after next season.
Yeo and Hitchcock have already begun working together this off-season and the dynamic appears to be working really well.
“I learned a lot already,” Hitchcock said, per the St. Louis Dispatch. “We took some of the really good stuff that we thought Mike and his staff did, and we’re incorporating that into us. There were things in their game that you really had a tough time playing against and now we know why. So we’re going to use those things, and it’s going to make us a hell of a lot better.”
What exactly will the Blues be sampling from Yeo?
“They played with tenacity but not a lot of size,” added Hitchcock. “That’s what we’re going to have. We’ve got a lot of really tenacious players. We don’t have the size that we did before, but we’ve got a lot of determined, hard-on-the-puck players and that’s a lot what Mike’s team did.”
The Blues will look different from the team that went to the Western Conference Final last spring. They’ll be without big bodies like David Backes and Troy Brouwer, who both left in free agency, so learning to be feisty with smaller players would be wise.
“We didn’t have the biggest team and we didn’t have the most physical team, but we talked about playing tough and playing hard in our own way, and what that meant is that we were going to be relentless on pucks,” said Yeo. “You can be smaller than a guy and there’s no reason that you shouldn’t still come out with the puck when you’re going in for a one-on-one battle.”