St. Louis Blues manager Doug Armstrong offered his support for Ken Hitchcock’s place in the Hall of Fame, despite being fired Wednesday morning before Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs.
His removal resulted in assistant coach Mike Yeo assuming coaching duties for the St. Louis Blues.
Ken Hitchcock’s firing followed the St. Louis team’s loss against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, leaving them with a score of 5-3 and fourth place in the Central Division.
Initially, Hitchcock was signed to a one-year contract in May of 2016, right after he took the Blues into the Western Conference last season; Mike Yeo signed on as the associate coach in June.
The initial plan was for Ken Hitchcock to leave at the end of his contract as he had said that this would be his final season, and it was agreed at the time that Mike Yeo would take over. Other than making the move ahead of schedule, everything is going as planned. But even Mike Yeo was in the same position that Ken Hitchcock finds himself in now before he started as assistance coach with the St. Louis Blues as he had already been fired once before when he was coaching the Minnesota Wild in February of 2016.
Coaches With Great Records
Even though such a firing traditionally reflects badly on any coach, Hitchcock had already taken the St. Louis Blues to 248-123-41 for six seasons.
Ken Hitchcock isn’t just someone off the street who doesn’t know how to run a team, as he’s already had the privilege of coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Dallas Stars, who he took to victory to the Stanley Cup in 1999.
The reason Hitchcock was let go from the St. Louis Blues was because the team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup, for which he had them at 20-27. In a line up of best coaches so far, however, he’s fourth.
Again, at 64-years-old, Hitchcock could have made his exit at the end of his contract, but if the NHL felt they would not be able to stave off any upcoming embarrassments until then, then putting Mike Yeo, 43, in his place was the obvious choice.
According to NHL.com, Yeo went 46-28-8 when he coached the Minnesota Wild in 2014-2015, which is said to be the second best in franchise history.
As it stands now, the Blues are in eighth place in the Western Conference with 24-21-5.
According to Salon, much of the underachieving with the St. Louis Blues was due to goalies Carter Hutton, Jake Allen, and Pheonix Copley, who combined have a 0.887 save percentage, which is said to be the worst mark for a team in the NHL.
In the article, the team’s general manager, Doug Armstrong, made a candid statement about Hitchcock getting replaced. He also spoke about the embarrassing losses the Blues had tolerated so far.
“We don’t lose with pride. It just felt like we were hit and miss night in and night out.”
He was also very clear in his statement, saying that they thought it was going to be a “rebuilding year. By removing Ken, he had the season and the future of the franchise in mind. He also said that the St. Louis Blues are his team, and as their manager, even though Ken Hitchcock was taking the hit, Doug was the source of the failures the team had been experiencing.
In returning to the issues mentioned over the goalies which, according to ESPN, both Allen and Hutton have been struggling with their lack of saves. It mentions that Allen took a break from the St. Louis Blues for a bit, which affected their team. That, together their 0.895/6 save percentage, was not going to help them win many games.
Armstrong also continued to talk about his support for the former St. Louis Blues coach’s place in the Hall of Fame, saying that in comparison, the players would have a long way to go to get there.
But it’s apparently not the end of Hitchcock as he has said that he intends to continue coaching after his firing.
To see just how worthy Hitchcock is of a place in the Hall of Fame, NHL.com has provided an extensive look at his history with the St. Louis Blues and in the overall hockey league.
[Featured Image by LM Otero/AP Images]