St. Louis Blues won't make rash decisions after early playoff exit

Ken Hitchcock needs to get the Blues out of the first round of the postseason or he might not be in St. Louis much longer. Norm Hall/NHLI/Getty Images

Many thought the St. Louis Blues would have made a coaching decision by now, but the first thing everyone needs to know is that general manager Doug Armstrong isn't going to let the emotion of the moment rush him into big decisions.

He is going to decompress and evaluate things on a more detached level after another standout regular season was followed by another disappointing early exit from the postseason.

"I want to take my time and make sure we’re making the proper evaluations moving forward and not doing anything knee-jerk," Armstrong told ESPN.com over the phone Tuesday, hours after he had met local media in St. Louis.

So where that leaves respected veteran head coach Ken Hitchcock remains to be seen, although Hitchcock's role within the organization certainly appears uncertain.

"I want to give time Ken time to sort out his thoughts; we want to sort out ours, too," Armstrong said.

Hitchcock, 63, politely declined an interview request via text Wednesday morning. No question he’s in soul-searching mode right now.

As popular a coach as there is in media circles around the league, the man we all call "Hitch" sounded hurt and despondent Tuesday at his end-of-season news conference in St. Louis.

Three straight years out in the first round, despite a team many observers around the league viewed as Cup contender each of those seasons. That hurts. And yet, no NHL team has picked up more points in the standings since Hitchcock’s arrival in St. Louis four years ago.

If I had to guess, I'd say it's 50-50 as to whether he’s back or not.

The coaching decision is hardly the only matter on Armstrong’s plate this offseason, however.

While the GM was coy about what his game plan might be this offseason, from the outside looking in, we can take a few guesses.

For instance, after some deep and methodical analysis, the Blues’ front office needs to ask itself if it's time to go a bit younger with the core. The window only stays open for so long in a salary-cap system. The team built long ago around the likes of David Backes and T.J. Oshie and other Day 1-ers has had many kicks at the can.

Is it time to reconfigure the nucleus and build around younger core guys such as Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen, and perhaps shuffle off some of the long-standing veterans?

Or, do you give the core as it is one more shot at it with a few tweaks?

I mean, it’s not like Armstrong hasn't tried to help this core, bringing in Jay Bouwmeester a few years ago, Ryan Miller last season, Paul Stastny last summer, and still getting no over-the-hump result.

Whatever Armstrong does, it won’t be done rashly.

The same way so many mistakes are made on July 1 by overpaying a small group of free agents, the same can be said of teams reacting on emotion after a tough playoff exit.

Remember that Armstrong cut his teeth under Bob Gainey in Dallas, learning to measure twice and cut once. Are changes coming? Almost surely. But it’s going to be a methodical, patient process.

"There’s disappointment; we're going to be pragmatic in our approach. Having said that, we are going to look at every aspect of it, as painful as that might be," Armstrong said.