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What Does History Teach us About a New Coach?

It has been 10 games since Ken Hitchcock has taken over the St. Louis Blues’ on-ice product.  He has gone an impressive 7-1-2 and is making Blues GM Doug Armstrong look like a genius for the change behind the bench.

But how much can 10 games really tell us?  It is not even 1/8 of a full NHL season. 

This is not the first time that a coaching change has happened mid-season.  Far from it.  So how have the last five coaches that took over mid-season faired the rest of the way? 

Here are the last 5 changes that have occurred behind the bench in the middle of the season:

1. New York Rangers – John Tortorella replaced Tom Renney on February 23, 2009.

2. Philadelphia Flyers – Peter Laviolette replaced John Stevens on December 4, 2009.

3. St. Louis Blues – Davis Payne replaced Andy Murray on January 2, 2010.

4. New York Islanders – Jack Capuano replaced Scott Gordon on November 15, 2010.

5. New Jersey Devils – Jacques Lemaire replaced John MacLean on December 23, 2010.


Now, I will show you how each coach faired in his first 10 games as head coach, as well as how the team finished the season after the coaching change.





These numbers mean squat when you don’t take in to effect how many of these teams made a big stride toward playoff contention.  Of the five aforementioned coaching changes, these bench bosses led their teams to the playoffs only twice (John Tortorella in 2008-09 when the Rangers finished 7th in the East and lost in the Conference Quarterfinals to the Washington Capitals and Peter Laviolette in 2009-10 when the Flyers finished 7th in the East and lost in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Chicago Blackhawks). 

Currently, the Blues find themselves 3rd in the division and 5th in the Western Conference with a 13-8-2 record (28 points).    With 23 games played, the Blues are on pace for about 99 points this season which, judging by last season’s final standings, would put them anywhere between the 4th and 7th seeds.

If this team can stay hot, Hitchcock will find himself among elite company for coaches.

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