On the night before the rest of the hockey world found out the St. Louis Blues were making a coaching change, Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo got a call from general manager Doug Armstrong. Armstrong shared the news of his decision. Ken Hitchcock was out, and the Mike Yeo era was starting early.
The immediate emotions from Pietrangelo were what you’d expect. He was upset and disappointed. As the captain of the team, he also felt responsible.
Much of the post-firing analysis centered on the Blues' loss of a veteran group of leaders in the offseason as a big reason why it wasn’t working in St. Louis, and the transition to the next generation of younger leaders didn’t work with Hitchcock.
Pietrangelo felt that.
“Being the captain, you feel responsible that the team hasn’t played to where we think we can be,” Pietrangelo said. “I accept responsibility for that.”
What has followed with the Blues is what many of the players call a re-energizing of the team. In what can only be a troubling trend for coaches behind the bench for underachieving teams, mid-season coaching changes have been a rousing success in the NHL this season. It follows a season in which a midseason coaching change sparked a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh.