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Columbus Blue Jackets Relieve Ken Hitchcock of His Head Coaching Duties, Name Claude Noel Interim Head Coach

by Blue Jackets Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved Head Coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named Assistant Coach Claude Noel as the club's interim head coach, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today.

Noel, 54, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach on June 28, 2007 after spending four seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals. During that time, he led the club to a 183-94-12-31 regular season record, three 100-point seasons and two West Division titles. He also compiled a 33-21 record in the Calder Cup Playoffs, including two appearances in the Finals (2004, 2006). During the 2003-04 season, the club compiled a 46-24-7-3 record and went 16-6 in the playoffs en route to capturing the organization's first Calder Cup championship. That year, Noel was named the AHL's Coach of the Year.

"This season has been very disappointing for the Blue Jackets organization and our fans and the responsibility for that rests with all of us from management to the coaches and players," said Howson. "Hitch worked tirelessly to build an identity for this team that was missing before he arrived and deserves a great deal of credit for those efforts. He earned and received the opportunity to turn things around this season, but unfortunately that has not happened and it has become apparent that change is in the best interest of our organization. Claude Noel is a good hockey coach with a proven track record in the American Hockey League. He knows our team and is deserving of this opportunity."

Noel began his coaching career with the ECHL's Roanoke Valley Rebels in 1990-91 and served as the head coach and director of hockey operations of the ECHL's Dayton Bombers from 1991-93. In 1993, he joined the Kalamazoo Wings (later Michigan K-Wings), International Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, as an assistant coach. He was named head coach during the 1995-96 season and served in that capacity through the 1997-98 campaign. From 1998-02, he was an assistant coach with the Admirals and in 2002-03 was named ECHL Coach of the Year with the Toledo Storm before returning to Milwaukee as head coach prior to the 2003-04 season.

Noel appeared in seven games as a forward with the Washington Capitals during the 1979-80 season and spent most of his playing career in the AHL and IHL and was named the latter’s Most Valuable Player in 1982-83 after leading the Toledo Goaldiggers to the Turner Cup championship. He wrapped up his playing career with Milwaukee in 1987-88. Noel was born on Oct. 31, 1955 in Kirkland, Ontario. He and his wife, Linda, are the parents of sons, Christopher and Sheldon.

"Ken Hitchcock joined the Blue Jackets at a time when our team needed credibility, stability and structure, which is exactly what he provided and for that we are extremely grateful," said Blue Jackets President Mike Priest. "He embraced our community and provided leadership and confidence to our organization and our fans and we are thankful for all he has done."

The Blue Jackets return to action Thursday when they host the Dallas Stars. Game time from Nationwide Arena is 7 p.m. ET. Live coverage on FOX Sports Ohio HD begins with the Blue Jackets Live pre-game show starting at 6:30 p.m. The game will also be broadcast live on the Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Blue Jackets Radio Network and flagship station WWCD-FM, CD101, and online at

Blue Jackets single game tickets are on sale now at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, The FOX Sports Ohio Blue Line Team Store at The Mall at Tuttle Crossing, ticket outlets at the Chiller Ice Rinks and all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers. Fans can also purchase tickets by phone at (800) 745-3000 or online at and Six-, 10- and 20-game packages for the 2009-10 season are also on sale. For information, call (800) NHL-COLS or visit


                       REGULAR SEASON                                             PLAYOFFS

Year        Team                 League   GP    W      L      T/O   Pts.   Pct.           Results

1990-91    Roanoke Valley   ECHL     64    26     31      7       59    .461        Out of Playoffs

1991-92    Dayton               ECHL     64      32     26      6      70    .547      Lost in first round

1992-93    Dayton               ECHL     64      35     23      6       76   .594   Lost in 2nd round

1995-96    Michigan             IHL         40      21    14      7      49    .613     Lost in 2nd round

1996-97    Michigan             IHL         82      31    44      7       69   .421     Lost in first round

1997-98    Michigan             IHL         82      36    39      7       79   .482     Lost in first round

2002-03    Toledo                ECHL     72      47    15     10      104  .722    Lost in 2nd round

2003-04    Milwaukee       AHL        80      46    24     10       102   .638  Won Championship

2004-05    Milwaukee          AHL       80      47   24      9       103   .644    Lost in first round

2005-06    Milwaukee          AHL       80      49   21     10      108   .675       Lost in Finals

2006-07    Milwaukee          AHL       80      41   25     14      96     .600    Lost in first round

IHL/AHL Totals                              524   271   191   64         .578                                  

ECHL Totals                                   264   140   95     29          .585

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