Mike Yeo As Future St. Louis Blues Coach Is Good For Chicago
The Chicago Blackhawks’ 2015-16 season ended with a Stanley Cup Playoffs quarterfinal loss to the St. Louis Blues, with the Blackhawks falling in seven games. The Blues would go to the conference final before losing to the San Jose Sharks in seven games.
After the Blues’ playoff exit, there some speculation on whether or not head coach Ken Hitchcock would be retained. The Blues ended the suspense by signing Hitchcock to a one-year deal a short time after losing. Hitchcock also announced that the 2016-17 season would be his last coaching in the NHL. Hitchcock currently stands at 757-453-88 as a coach and is currently fourth all time in coaching wins and second to Joel Quenneville among active coaches.
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Hitchcock’s Blues have fared pretty well against the Blackhawks during his tenure. In his first “full” season of 2012-13, the Blues were 2-3 with four points against the Blackhawks. In 2013-14, the Blues were 3-2 against the ’Hawks and had six points, but fell to the ’Hawks in the postseason quarterfinals 4-2.
In 2014-15, the Blues went 3-2 against the Blackhawks for six points. Last season, they were 3-2 for six points and defeated the Blackhawks in the playoffs. Hitchcock has had three winning seasons against the Blackhawks during the regular season and is 1-1 against them in the playoffs.
Since Hitchcock is retiring after this season, the Blues decided to hire Mike Yeo as an assistant coach for the 2016-17 season and name him Hitchcock’s successor for the following season.
That’s right, Mike Yeo, the former coach of the Minnesota Wild who was fired after an eight-game losing streak. Yeo seems to be more famous of his Herb Brooks-type rants than his win-loss record.
This is coach whose Wild teams were 0-3 in the playoffs series against the Blackhawks. Yeo’s best Wild team was swept 4-0 by the Blackhawks in the 2015 playoffs.
In the regular season, Yeo didn’t fare badly against the Blackhawks. Yeo did fare well against the Blackhawks in his first year (2011-12), going 2-1-1 for five points. His second year with the Wild was worse than the first, going 1-2-1 against the Blackhawks.
In his third season, the Wild owned Blackhawks going 3-1 with six points. His fourth year, the Wild were 2-3 against the Blackhawks.
While he might have fared OK against the Blackhawks in the regular season, he failed in the playoffs. Now Yeo will be inheriting a much better team in the Blues, but the record is the still record.
The Yeo hire will also help the Blackhawks’ offense. Yeo likes to overplay his top defensive stars. In Minnesota, Yeo upped Ryan Suter’s minutes. He went from 27:17 a night to 29:00 minutes plus per night under Yeo, and only after he was fired did Suter’s minutes get reduced. Alex Pietrangelgo averages 26 minutes a night for the Blues, so we could see his minutes rise to 28 or 29 under Yeo.
Now Yeo is not a bad coach for his career — he is above-average by the numbers. Yeo for his career is 173-132-44, all games with the Minnesota Wild. He has a winning percentage of .559. Now any time you go from a top-five coach of all time to someone else, it is a downgrade, but Yeo might be a bigger downgrade than most people think.