Ken Hitchcock should have been on the hot seat before the 2016-17 season even started. Instead of making a coaching change over the summer, the Blues wanted to give Hitchcock one more chance and instead brought in Mike Yeo as an assistant. Should Hitchcock stumble, Yeo could easily slide in and assume the coaching role the Blues have already given to him for 2017-18.
Now that the Blues are struggling, fans are already calling for Hitchcock’s head. His style doesn’t seem to fit the roster that Doug Armstrong created. That’s not to say the roster will fit Yeo, but it certainly doesn’t match the physical, bruising style Hitchcock previously embraced.
It may still be early and it might be too early to make a coaching change. However, the Blues should be ready to make a change at any given moment considering Hitchcock’s leash should be (or should have been) extremely short. The whole point of having Yeo on board now was to make a change at the first sign of trouble. Given the highly competitive West, the Blues can’t afford to spend too much time spinning their wheels.
Over the past several seasons, the Blues have been puzzling when it comes to their overall strategy. That’s from the GM on down to the coaching. Armstrong has a solid record of success which has earned him a pass, but his recent seasons are open to criticism. His handling of the cap placed the Blues in an awkward spot where they are notably weaker in 2016-17 than they were during their strong playoff run in 2015-16. That’s a point which will have to be evaluated at the end of the year, but the fact remains that the current cap crunch the Blues are in is Armstrong’s doing. As for Hitchcock, the Blues known exactly what to expect. There aren’t going to be any surprises. They were content to roll the dice for another year following a Western Final run, and though I didn’t agree with it, I can understand the move. That being said, I only understand that move if Hitchcock was firmly planted in the hot seat as soon as the season started.
The Blues’ 5-4-2 record essentially indicates a .500 club. Even though that’s only through 11 games and holding a point-per-game pace isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s still a little deceptive. The Blues’ ability to finish in the offensive zone looks extremely worrisome and actually makes their record look like a great accomplishment. Inconsistencies can be found across the roster. The approach and strategy in games, particularly of late, look horrible. The club looks unprepared and overwhelmed. There’s no debate that the roster deserves to be blamed, but the obvious solution the team should try first should have been one they prepared for over the summer.