Claude Noel to Carry the Flag for the Blue Jackets After the Team Fires Ken Hitchcock

Less then one day after being humiliated by a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, General Manager Scott Howson announced the Columbus Blue Jackets parted ways with head coach Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday afternoon. Hitchcock’s longtime assistant Claude Noel will be the interim head coach for the Blue Jackets.

The Blue Jackets have struggled on the ice this season by playing inconsistently, blowing leads, and have lost games due to sluggish third periods. While the team lost some of its scoring touch when Manny Malholtra and Jason Williams were not resigned, the Blue Jackets almost have the same team intact from last season and have circulated at the bottom of the standings for almost the entire season. Not all of the problems can be attributed to Hitchcock but the team did not seem motivated to play as strong as they can at times this season.

Many of blamed Hitchcock’s defensive style of hockey as one of the problems for the Blue Jackets struggles this season. Hitchcock helped develop forward Rick Nash into a two-way star but the team has struggled to maintain leads due to the number of shots given up late in the game. The Blue Jackets have simply not been able to prevent strong opponents from making shots and with a tough schedule that consists of playing Colorado, Chicago, Nashville and Detroit several times, giving up too many shots cost Columbus some games this season.

While questions still remain as to whether or not Hitchcock is to take all the blame, naming Claude Noel is an interesting move for the Blue Jackets. Noel has served as an assistant head coach in the NHL for the past several seasons and has years of experience developing players as a head coach in the ECHL, AHL and the defunct IHL. Noel has a proven track record with developing players and giving him a shot could be what the Blue Jackets need.

Hiring as the interim head coach is interesting based on the history of the Blue Jackets club. After the team parted ways with former head coach Gerard Gallant, current assistant coach Gary Agnew was put in his place. Agnew could not muster any offense or wins as an interim head coach. The Blue Jackets were a different team back then but the Blue Jackets must feel more comfortable with giving Noel a shot over handing the reigns to Agnew again.

As interim head coach, Noel will have to prove himself and help this team improve in order to stay on as a permanent replacement. With the regular season winding down and with more coach firings on the way, Noel can earn his spot as a permanent head coach if he can improve the performance on the ice. Hiring from within has worked for the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals and this could be a strategy that could work for Noel and the Blue Jackets.

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~ by jeffrsabo on February 4, 2010.

2 Responses to “Claude Noel to Carry the Flag for the Blue Jackets After the Team Fires Ken Hitchcock”

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