Blues fire coach Ken Hitchcock, promote Mike Yeo
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Blues have fired coach Ken Hitchcock.
Assistant and coach-in-waiting Mike Yeo replaced him ahead of schedule. Yeo was supposed to succeed Hitchcock after this season, the veteran coach’s final in St. Louis.
General manager Doug Armstrong announced the abrupt change Wednesday morning. The Blues are 24-21-5 and in eighth place in the Western Conference.
Despite being in a playoff spot through 50 games, St. Louis has lost five of six and went 5-8 in January. The Blues lost at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.
Hitchcock took the fall for the Blues’ underachieving season, which had a lot to do with goaltending struggles. Goalies Jake Allen, Carter Hutton and Pheonix Copley have combined for an .887 save percentage, which is the worst team mark in the NHL.
The 65-year-old Hitchcock was in his sixth season as Blues coach. They went 248-124-41 and made the playoffs in each of his five seasons, reaching the Western Conference final last spring.
Fired by the Minnesota Wild last February, Yeo was brought on to Hitchcock’s staff in the offseason to be his successor beginning in 2017-18. Hitchcock has said he’s interested in continuing to coach after this season when the Blues move on to Yeo.
Hitchcock has coached 20 NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Blues. He won the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, and his 781 career regular-season victories are fourth all-time, one shy of Hockey Hall of Fame coach Al Arbour for third.