Fighting to get to a .500 record at 6-7-0 and sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues fired coach Davis Payne Sunday night and replaced him with Ken Hitchcock. Hitchcock was most recently in charge of the Columbus Blue Jackets who fired him last February, but was still under contract. Columbus gave permission for the Blues to speak with Hitchcock.
He has a career record of 534-350-88-70 with the Blue Jackets, Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars. He led the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999, and lost in the Final to New Jersey in 2000. Hitchcock helped the Blue Jackets reach the playoffs for the only time in the franchise’s history in 2009, but was fired the next season after the team started 23-27-9.
Payne finished with a 67-55-15 record and was surprised by the move. “It’s shocking and it’s disappointing, but in the end, you’re responsible for all the areas of your hockey team,” Payne said. “There were pieces that weren’t firing on all cylinders and it’s under my umbrella of responsibility. But I also can say that we were looking at a favorable schedule ahead and ready to turn the corner. That said, if this is what gets things going, then I’m all for it. I wish nothing but the best for the team and this group of guys. They deserve it.”