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Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Blue Jackets want to talk to ex-Flyers coach Hitchcock

Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Blue Jackets' hunt for a new coach is on a fast track that may lead them to Ken Hitchcock, who was fired as Philadelphia Flyers coach last month.

Blue Jackets president and general manager Doug MacLean received permission from the Flyers to interview Hitchcock, the veteran coach confirmed on Tuesday night.

"My understanding is that Columbus has asked for permission from the Flyers and that they have given it," Hitchcock said. "But no one from the Blue Jackets has talked to me."

Columbus announced earlier in the day that assistant Gary Agnew would serve as interim head coach after the firing of Gerard Gallant a day earlier. Team president and general manager Doug MacLean did not immediately return a phone message.

MacLean said earlier that he expected team owner John H. McConnell and son John P. McConnell to hire a permanent coach "fairly quick."

Hitchcock declined to comment on whether he would be interested in the Blue Jackets job. The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported on its Web site Tuesday that Columbus had approached the Flyers about Hitchcock, who remains with the team as a scout since his Oct. 22 firing.

The Blue Jackets fired Gallant on Monday; the team is in last place in the Western Conference's Central Division with a 5-9-1-0 record. The team's 11 points is the third-worst total in the NHL and its 33 goals is the fewest of any team.

Hitchcock was fired after a 1-6-1 start by the Flyers, a veteran squad that had apparently tuned him out because of his demanding style that might play better with the young Blue Jackets.

Hitchcock has a 408-249-100 record in 10 NHL seasons with the Dallas Stars and the Flyers. He was at the helm when the Stars win the Stanley Cup in 1999.