Blues exercise option on Hitchcock's contract

News-DemocratMay 7, 2014 

As expected, the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday extended the contract of coach Ken Hitchcock through the 2014-15 season and also retained assistant coaches Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett.

The Blues also announced that assistant coach Gary Agnew and goaltending coach Corey Hirsch are not returning and a search is underway for their replacements.

"I would like to thank Gary and Corey for their diligence and dedication as members of our organization, and wish them nothing but success in their future endeavors," Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong said in a statement.

Hirsch had spent the last four seasons with the Blues while Agnew had been on staff for two seasons. In a release, the Blues said they would have no further comment until replacement coaches are named.

The 62-year-old Hitchcock has been coaching the Blues since Nov. 7, 2011. The team is 124-55-20 under his guidance with a .673 winning percentage, best in franchise history.

The Blues set a franchise record with 52 wins this season.

However, the Blues have been knocked out of the playoffs in the opening round in each of the last two seasons despite taking a 2-0 lead in each best-of-seven series.

In Hitchcock's first season they reached the second round before being eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

Hitchcock ranks seventh on the NHL's all-time wins list with 657 and is second behind Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville (706) among active coaches.

Quenneville's 307 victories with the Blues are the most in franchise history and Hitchcock ranks third with 124.

One intriguing name that could surface is that of recently fired Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates.

Oates was a popular player on the Blues whose longtime teammate and good friend here, Hall of Famer Brett Hull, is now part of the Blues' front office staff.

The Blues' struggles on the power play during the playoffs could be one area addressed by a new coaching hire.

Contact reporter Norm Sand at 239-2454, nsanders@bnd.com or follow him on Twitter: @NormSanders

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