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Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong Hopeful; Former Coach Davis Payne Appreciative

In an article published earlier the day that the St. Louis Blues fired head coach Davis Payne, Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong sees some hope in the future despite the frustrations. He was generally displeased with the direction of the special teams, and he highlights that specifically:

“I think you have to look at the power play and the penalty kill for the first eight or nine games (as problems),” Armstrong said. “Both have been better recently, but we haven’t got to reap any of the rewards from the power play movement. But at least we’re seeing some form of life there.”

He also calls out the top scorers on the team, basically saying that if the third line can be an effective scoring line, than so can the top six. The loss of Andy McDonald is not an excuse for a 3-for-40 powerplay:

“We thought that the strength of our team was going to be our depth, and our depth hasn’t provided us with that secondary scoring on some nights,” Armstrong said. “Early in the season, we had (Jason) Arnott, (Jamie) Langenbrunner and (Alex) Steen doing a majority of the work. For us to be a successful team, we’re going to need scoring throughout the group, and that includes the top six.”

He does see Halak improving, and he’s pleased with Elliott’s role on the team. He’s not negative, but him specifically calling out the lack of scoring makes the hiring of a defensively-minded Ken Hitchcock more interesting.

Recently fired coach Davis Payne was very gracious in handing over the reins of the team to Hitchcock, telling the Post-Dispatch:

“[I]f this is what gets things going, then I’m all for it. I wish nothing but the best for the team and this group of guys. They deserve it.

“I’m more than grateful, more than grateful, to this organization for giving me a chance to coach in this league. The things that I learned and will learn from this, I owe a great deal of thanks.”

The press conference announcing the hiring of Hitchcock is scheduled for 10:30 today, before the Blues’ first practice with their new coach. Hitchcock makes his premiere Tuesday night like the two coaches before him: against the Chicago Blackhawks.