Sports Outside the Beltway

Columbus Blue Jackets fire Coach Ken Hitchcock

It is less he took the NHL franchise to its first ever playoff appearance. From AP-

The Columbus Blue Jackets fired defensive-minded coach Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday, less than a year after the club made the postseason for the first time.Ken Hitchcock

Assistant coach Claude Noel was chosen to lead the team on an interim basis.

General manager Scott Howson announced the firing a day after the struggling Blue Jackets blew a 1-0 lead in a listless 5-1 loss at Colorado. Columbus stands 14th of the 15 teams in the Western Conference with a 22-27-9 record and 53 points.


The Blue Jackets play their next game at home against the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

“You’re going to see some changes,” Noel said. “But I’m not going to reinvent the game.”

The 54-year-old Noel joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach in June 2007, after spending four seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. During that time, he led the club to a 183-94-12-31 regular-season record, three 100-point seasons and two West Division titles.

Built around star forward Rick Nash, the Blue Jackets made it to the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs a year ago before being swept by the Detroit Red Wings.


Hitchcock, who is also an assistant coach on Canada’s Olympic team, picked up his 500th career victory behind the Columbus bench a year ago, but the team appeared stagnant after a fast start this season.

The club got off to a 12-6-2 record through Nov. 19 but then wilted. The Jackets won just three of their next 24 games, spiraling out of the playoff picture. The defense sagged at times and even when last year’s rookie of the year, goalie Steve Mason, had a good game, the offense fell apart.

Mason, who was Rookie of the Year and Vezina finalist last year, has been nothing short of terrible this year. His 3.28 GAA and .890 are I think is the biggest reason the Blue Jackets have done so poorly this year.

I think Hitchcock will be a head coach again in the NHL. He led Dallas to a Stanley Cup Championship and had good records in Philadelphia and Columbus. Who knows maybe Florida will hire him when they fire Peter DeBoer. The Panthers certainly could do a lot worse than Hitch.

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