Ken Hitchcock Fired
The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved head coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named assistant coach Claude Noel as the club's interim head coach, the team announced today.
"This season has been very disappointing for the Blue Jackets organization and our fans and the responsibility for that rests with all of us from management to the coaches and players," said general manager Scott Howson in a statement.
"Hitch worked tirelessly to build an identity for this team that was missing before he arrived and deserves a great deal of credit for those efforts. He earned and received the opportunity to turn things around this season, but unfortunately that has not happened and it has become apparent that change is in the best interest of our organization. Claude Noel is a good hockey coach with a proven track record in the American Hockey League. He knows our team and is deserving of this opportunity."
After being fired by the Philadelphia Flyers early in the 2006-07 season, Hitchcock took over the reigns in Columbus a month later and almost managed to get the young Blue Jackets to the .500 mark in 62 games.
The following season, the Edmonton native was unable to get the team into the playoffs with a record of 34-36-12 but ownership felt the team was headed in the right direction and rewarded him with a three-year extension. He has two full years remaining on the current contract.
Last season, the Blue Jackets (41-31-10) broke through the playoff barrier for the first time in franchise history but were promptly swept in four games by the Detroit Red Wings.
Hitchcock started his NHL head coaching career with the Dallas Stars in 1995-96 and led the team to their first Stanley Cup three years later. His next stop came with the Flyers in 2002-03 and his tenure lasted until early in the 2006-07 campaign.
Hitchcock leaves the Blue Jackets as the sixth-longest tenured coach in the NHL, trailing only Anaheim's Randy Carlyle, Buffalo's Lindy Ruff, Detroit's Mike Babcock, Nashville's Barry Trotz and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault.
Earlier this season, Hitchcock was named as an assistant coach for the Canadian Olympic team competing at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Noel, 54, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach in 2007 after spending four seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals.
Can't say I didn't see this coming. TCL blogger Fred Poulin certainly did in this article .