Blues fire Hitchcock; Yeo takes over early

The coaching change was supposed to happen after the season was over, but a disappointing year has cost veteran bench boss Ken Hitchcock his job ahead of time.

The St. Louis Blues announced Wednesday morning that Hitchcock had been relieved of his duties and that associate coach Mike Yeo was taking over. Yeo, the former Minnesota Wild head coach, was hired last summer with the stipulation that he would take over when Hitchcock retired after this season.

But following another loss Tuesday night, this one 5-3 at home to Winnipeg, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong decided the time was now to change things up.

Hitchcock was hired in St. Louis in November 2011 and guided the Blues to a 248-124-41 record in the regular season and transformed them into yearly contenders, though last season’s trip to the Western Conference finals was their deepest playoff run. Hitchcock finishes second all-time in wins for St. Louis, and his 781 career regular-season wins rank fourth in NHL history — just one victory behind Al Arbour for third place.

The Blues began the season with expectations of being a Cup contender again, but at 24-21-5, they find themselves on the playoff bubble.

The 43-year-old Yeo had a 173-132-44 record with Minnesota as head coach from 2011-2016, leading the Wild to three straight postseason appearances.

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