Blues Fire Head Coach, Keep Assistants: Probably Not the Best Idea

Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Blues are going to make a coaching change and Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett will be kept on as assistants.

Bennett and Shaw joined Blues in the 2006 season. Shaw was hired in the summer of 2006 under current head coach Mike Kitchen. Bennett joined the staff the day after Andy Murray was hired. On Sunday night, the Blues fired Davis Payne and named Ken Hitchcock the new man. Shaw and Bennett were kept on as assistants. 

It is utterly mind boggling to me that these two men have jobs. Shaw has been here for five-plus seasons and now four head coaches. Bennett is on coach No. 3. The Blues seem to have no problem changing the head man, but man are they loyal to the Lieutenants. Shaw and Bennett are made of Teflon. 

Can anyone explain this me? The Blues head coach is in charge of the operation, but doesn't get to choose his assistants? It's almost like the assistants would be more loyal to the men upstairs (not God) than to to Davis Payne. 

In football, the coach and coaching staff are one. If you fire the HC, you're firing the OC, the DC and everyone down to the water boy. Very rarely do guys stay on staff. 

Payne's dismissal is seen by many as the direct result of a sluggish start by just about every key players and, once again, poor overall team play. The Blues are taking shifts off, having long stretch of lackadaisical play, and piss poor special teams. Wanna take a wild guess at what Shaw and Bennett do? Shaw has been in charge of the PK, Bennett has worked with the power play. 

Let's look deeper into those numbers.

The power play since Bennett joined the team:

  • 2006-07: 12.1 percent, 29th in the league
  • 2007-08: 14.1 percent, 30th in the league
  • 2008-09: 20.5 percent, 8th in the league* 
  • 2009-10: 16.9 percent, 20th in the league
  • 2010-11: 18.6 percent, 10th in the league
  • 2011-12: 7.5 percent, 30th in the league
Wanna know why this asterisk*  is there? That was the year Andy Murray very publicly took control of the power play. 

What we have here is a power play that pretty awful on regular basis. The talent level of this team is closer to the 10th-ranked team, yet it's playing like the worst PP in the league. You remember how bad those first two years were? There's no reason for this team to play like that. 

The penalty kill is actually a little better, but far from perfect.
  • 2006-07: 80 percent, 25th in the league
  • 2007-08: 84.4 percent, 7th in the league
  • 2008-09: 83.8 percent, 3rd in the league 
  • 2009-10: 86.8, 1st in the league
  • 2010-11: 81.7, 18th in the league
  • 2011-12: 73.8, 27th in the league

The first year was bad but then a few things happened: Roman Polak, Jay McClement and Mike Weaver. Those three players, along with admittedly a few others, were integral to the No. 1 PK unit. Weaver was left to go elsewhere and McClement struggled after his breakthrough 2009-10 season. He was dealt to Colorado and now the Blues PK is a mess. 

It's been suggested that the Blues were tuning Payne out. After fewer than 140 games behind the bench, the players had enough of this current coach and wanted a new one. That's pretty awful, but whatever. If you buy that, how can you buy the fact that Shaw and Bennett still have jobs. Only one player has been around longer than Shaw and Bennett and that's Barret Jackman. If Payne's message is stale after 140 games, how fresh is the message from the Dynamic Duo after more than 400 games? 

And don't even get me started on Corey Hirsch. 

Shaw and Bennett have been around for too long and have just one playoff showing. The Blues have been a franchise stuck in this awful zone of not being good enough to make the playoffs but not being good enough to draft highly. I'm probably overstating how much impact Shaw and Bennett have on the team, however, it's obvious the Blues first move is to always blame the coach.

Why not look a little deeper at the bench?

Four coaches since the start of the 2006-07 season is unacceptable. The Blues front office is simply ignoring the deeper problems and just going for the surface—the quickest, easiest fix. 

The point is, we can argue all we want about Davis Payne. Personally I think he deserved this whole season. Last year, his only full season, was injury plagued and the Blues were only 10 points out. With a better roster, and a favorable schedule coming up, Payne should have been given a chance to right the ship.

However, I can see why the move was made. The players need motivated and need a new boss. A change was made and the Blues decided to fire Payne.

The problem is, he shouldn't have been the only one. 

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