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Ken Hitchcock Relieved of Blues’ Coaching Duties

Ken Hitchcock Relieved of Blues' Coaching Duties Dave Herholz/via Flickr

Associate Coach Mike Yeo to replace Hitchcock behind St. Louis bench

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ST. LOUIS-Last season, the St. Louis Blues finished two wins shy of their first Stanley Cup Final berth since 1970. This season, head coach Ken Hitchcock announced it would be his final year behind an NHL bench and some surely thought the team would rally around that and build off of last spring’s playoff run. However, this season has not gone according to plan and the team decided to make a change at their coach’s expense.

The Blues relieved Hitchcock of his coaching duties on Wednesday and promoted associate coach Mike Yeo to interim head coach.

The move comes after St. Louis loss to the division rival Winnipeg Jets 5-3 on Tuesday to fall to fourth in the Central Division. It comes in a stretch where the team is just 3-7-0 in their last 10 games.

That stretch has them clinging on to the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, as they are tied with Calgary

In his five-plus seasons with the Blues, Hitchcock coached his team to a 248-124-41 record in the regular season and playoff appearances each season. They also finished in the top-two of the division in each of the prior five years. Last spring’s run was the farthest the team had gone in the playoffs since reaching the Conference Final in 2001.

After Hitchcock signed a one-year contract and  announced 2016-17 would be his final season last summer, St. Louis hired Yeo as associate coach to eventually replace Hitchcock.

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Yeo had spent the better part of the last six seasons with the Minnesota Wild organization. In June of 2010, he was hired as head coach of the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s primary AHL affiliate at the time. After leading the Aeros to the Calder Cup Final that season, the 43-year-old was then hired as the Minnesota bench boss for the 2011-12 campaign.

In four full seasons as Wild head coach, Yeo led Minnesota to the playoff three times and took them to the second round in 2014 and 2015 before being let go during the 2015-16 season with a 173-132-44 record in 349 games.

He will be making his debut behind the Blues bench on Thursday (9:00 PM ET, FS-MW, TSN4, NHL.TV) as St. Louis hosts the Toronto Maple Leafs.

While this surely not the way Hitchcock imagined his final season going, he will still go down as one of the greatest coaches in NHL history.

His career record of 781-473-111 and 88 ties ranks him fourth all-time in wins amongst coaches and his 1,453 games coached are fifth all-time. He also led the Dallas Stars to their only Stanley Cup Final appearances in 1999 and 2000, winning the Cup in 1999.

Hitchcock also won a gold medal with Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics as an associate coach and at the 2014 Winter Olympics as an assistant coach.