What pros and cons are we seeing from the two coach system of the St. Louis Blues?Craig Custance: The pro is that Mike Yeo gets to learn from Ken Hitchcock to see how he operates for a full season before taking the reins. That has value that won’t be realized until after this season. The downside is that it messes up the normal structure of a hockey team. Players might not be as comfortable going to Yeo, like they would a normal assistant, with concerns about Hitchcock, knowing he’s ascending to the head coaching job after this season. But, really, this isn’t a coaching issue in St. Louis. The Blues just aren’t getting the goaltending. How many teams make it to the conference finals and then cut loose the goalie who got them there? I understand why they traded Brian Elliott to the Calgary Flames, but there was risk in that decision and we’re seeing the downside. This might not be as good a team as last season’s group, but it’s still good enough to do playoff damage with strong goaltending, something GM Doug Armstrong should look hard at addressing before the trade deadline. The West is slowing down a little bit, so now isn’t the time to take the foot off the gas in St. Louis.
Scott Burnside: You have to wonder what impact knowing this is Hitchcock’s last season and Yeo will take over is having as the Blues try to work through this midseason slide. Are players already preparing for a new coaching voice while the old one is still ringing in their ears? Or is this more a function of a compressed schedule limiting how much teaching Hitchcock is able to do with a young Blues club? Maybe a bit of both. The bigger problem in St. Louis is the no goaltender system being employed. As in, the Blues don’t have any goaltenders who can stop the puck with regularity. Jake Allen is off the rails and was pulled for the third consecutive time and fourth in six starts in an 7 3 ugly loss to Washington on Thursday. Whether you have one coach or 10, if your goaltending is substandard, you don’t win in this league. Either way, there’s trouble in St. Louis.
Pierre LeBrun: Hitchcock is one of the most respected and decorated coaches both at the NHL and international levels, but it’s fair to raise the question of whether he will last the rest of the season if the Blues keep producing uneven results. After all, his announced replacement, Yeo, is already in place. Even the game’s greatest coach, Scotty Bowman, eventually got tuned out by his players. It happens to all coaches. I’m not saying his players have tuned him out in St. Louis, but he’s been there a while. I don’t think the Blues’ struggles have anything to do with the unique, coach in waiting setup put in last summer. I think it’s got more to do with a team whose window as an elite, top five outfit has started to close.
Joe McDonald:It’s a perfect system for Yeo to learn under Hitchcock. Instead of trying to beat the veteran coach, Yeo is gaining invaluable experience alongside him. The transition should be smooth when Yeo takes over. More important than the x’s and o’s will be the relationship Yeo has built with the players. That will enable Yeo to put his own philosophies into place while building off Hitchcock’s foundation. Even though it’s understood that Yeo will take over, other teams around the hockey jerseys form china
league have a similar system in place just in case. For theBoston Bruins, for example, if Claude Julien is fired, assistant Bruce Cassidy will likely be the man to replace him.