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Struggling Blue Jackets fire head coach Hitchcock


Columbus Blue Jackets' head coach Ken Hitchcock instructs one of his players during the second period of their NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton January 7, 2010. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber
Columbus Blue Jackets' head coach Ken Hitchcock instructs one of his players during the second period of their NHL game against the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton January 7, 2010. REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Columbus Blue Jackets fired head coach Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday and named assistant Claude Noel as the club's interim head coach.

The Blue Jackets have limped to 22-27 this season and are second-last in the NHL's Western Conference.

"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," Scott Howson, general manager of the Blue Jackets, said on the team's website (http://bluejackets.nhl.com).

Hitchcock, who won a Stanley Cup as the coach of the Dallas Stars in 1999, was named Columbus's head coach in November 2006. He led the franchise into the playoffs for the first time in the 2008-09 season.

Noel joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach in mid-2007 after four seasons as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals in the American Hockey League.

(Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom)

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