No matter what Mike Babcock announces May 20, Ken Hitchcock is riding into the St. Louis
Blues coaching sunset. On the longshot that he is not, Hitch will be flying into Purgatory thanks to Doug Armstrong hanging him out to dry. National media as well as Jeremy Rutherford reported Armstrong pitching the Blues job to Babcock earlier in the week. Everyone familiar with the 2014-15 Blues knows there was a disconnect between Hitch and his players. No one has volunteered an exact description of the disconnect, but everyone agrees it was there.
Armstrong had to know. He also knew that if his conversation with Babcock or any other
potential Hitch replacement became public, the players need to reconnect with Hitch would
drop below zero. Armstrong, for better or worse, has forced Armstrong out. Lacking any other information, it feels a bit cowardly.
Next? Maybe Babcock accepts the job. Dan Blysma? Maybe Shaw or Muller? Maybe one of the other Usual Suspects. But I would not waste my writing time contemplating someone from central casting. Besides being boring, it violates my central premise. If you always do what you always do, you always get what you always get. Time for the Blues to do something very new.
The Blues should one-up the lead provided by the Philadelphia Flyers’ hire of Dave Hakstol. Think way outside the box.
THAT Mark Johnson. The Guy-That-Beat-The-Russians Mark Johnson. He has the best American hockey pedigree ever. His dad, Badger Bob Johnson, was an American Hockey God. He coached his teams to every championship around including a Stanley Cup.
Mark’s accomplishments stand on their own merit. He had an excellent 10 year NHL career, including a very brief stop as a Note. His 20+ year coaching career includes 4 NCAA Championships and a long list of honors. He has become the most acclaimed women’s hockey coach in the country.
Did I say women? You bet!!! No doubt few reading this will agree that Mark Johnson achievements as a women’s coach have earned him a chance as a NHL coaching. But then again, no one has done what Mark has done at so many different levels. He deserves a chance.
Before you totally dismiss the idea, consider the way Armstrong has handled the Hitch situation. He is forcing Hitch out, even if it is needed, without getting his hands dirty. Hitch deserves to be treated in a honest, upfront manner. Leaking information to the press and leveraging player discontentment to force Hitch out even if Babcock turns down the deal should not be The Blues Way.
I hate the sexist phrase, "think like a man". But if Armstrong can’t find the words to directly fire
Hitch, maybe Blues fans get lucky and someone taps into his female side.