In a move that came absolutely out of nowhere on a Sunday night, the Blues have fired head coach Davis Payne and replaced him with former Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. The Blues are 6-7-0 on the season so far, which is not nearly as terrible as the Blue Jackets' record of 2-11-1. Most had Scott Arniel on their list as first to be fired of the season, and many of those people expected Hitchcock to replace him back behind the Columbus bench.
A motivating factor for the firing could be the Blues' abysmal special teams performance to begin the season. The penalty kill is the 27th best in the NHL, successful just 73.8% of the time. The power play, which recently has only been able to score while flinging both themselves and the puck at the net, is dead last in the league with the amazing success percentage of 7.5%. They have scored just three times on 44 chances.
Davis Payne, who replaced Andy Murray at the end of the 2009-2010 season, coached 137 games for the Blues, with a record of 67-55-15. Ken Hitchcock lifetime is 534-350-88-70, and helped the Dallas Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999 during the GM tenure of current Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. In his coaching stint with Columbus, his defensively sound system helped Steve Mason win the Veznia his freshman season, though the team finished over .500 only once during his tenure.
It's apparent that Hitchcock was hired thanks to his connection to Armstrong. What is less apparent is why, exactly, Davis Payne was fired and what is going to happen to the remainder of the coaching staff. Hitchcock is more than a capable coach, though there were rumors of his coaching style throttling the potential of former Blue Jacket Nikita Filatov. Hopefully Hitchcock can work well with the Blues' young core, or else this has a chance of becoming Andy Murray v.2.0.