The St. Louis Blues find themselves in a unique position this season when it comes to their coaching staff. Long-time head coach Ken Hitchcock announced during the offseason that he would be retiring at the end of the year and the team hired Mike Yeo as their coach-in-waiting. Throughout the major North American sports landscape, many teams are hesitant to have a coach in a ‘lame duck’ season with one year left on his contract so it’s particularly noteworthy that St. Louis is openly going with one in Hitchcock this season.
A quick look at the standings would suggest that it seems to be working so far. The Blues find themselves second in the Central Division with a points percentage over .500. However, the team has a negative goal differential, have taken a lot of undisciplined penalties, and are currently struggling on the man advantage. With that in mind, Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if the Blues should promote Yeo now to the head coaching spot.
Hitchcock’s teams with St. Louis have in part been defined by their size and physicality, something that isn’t the case this year as power forwards David Backes and Troy Brouwer were replaced by faster, more finesse options in David Perron and Nail Yakupov. So far, the Blues have been hit-or-miss when it comes to playing their desired up-tempo style and that inconsistency – especially on the road – has proven costly as of late.
Given Hitchcock’s track record and the fact that the Blues are currently in a playoff spot, it’s hard to foresee them making the switch behind the bench this quickly. If their recent struggles continue though, promoting Yeo earlier than anticipated could become an option, especially if GM Doug Armstrong isn’t able to make any substantive changes to the roster beforehand.
More from St. Louis:
- As Hitchcock continues to shake up the lineup in an effort to get the team going, left winger Robby Fabbri is the most recent forward to be a healthy scratch. The sophomore has struggled lately with just one point in his last ten games and has only four points (1-3-4) on the season. Fabbri tells Tom Timmermann of the Post-Dispatch that the decision to hit him didn’t come as too much of a surprise: “It’s my first time being scratched ever, so it’s a little bit of a different feeling. Surprised? No. You start getting a feel from them and a feel from how you think you’re playing, and you know there’s a possibility. Once I saw it, I tried to get over it as soon as possible and move on and get ready for what’s coming up.” It appears that Fabbri will get back into the lineup tonight and play along Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko, reports Chris Pinkert of the team’s official site.
- The Blues announced that they have re-assigned defenseman Chris Butler to their AHL affiliate in Chicago, just one day after recalling him. As a result, they’re back to just the minimum of six healthy blueliners on the active roster. Accordingly, it wouldn’t be surprising if Butler or another rearguard was to be brought back up before too long.