Hitch in his step

It's not often the Wild ends another team's coaching tenure, but a 2-1 win over St. Louis last Saturday was the last straw for Davis Payne.

With everybody thinking Ken Hitchcock would soon resurface in Columbus, the Blue Jackets instead gave permission Sunday for the Blues to talk to him. Three hours later, Hitchcock, a finalist for the Wild vacancy last spring, was on I-70 driving to St. Louis.

Hitchcock was the big name out there, and you can bet with so many teams struggling and Thanksgiving typically the time teams evaluate themselves from the ground up, Blues GM Doug Armstrong, who worked with Hitchcock in Dallas, didn't want to wait any longer.

Standing pat

Most amazingly, the Blue Jackets could get beat 9-2 last Saturday by Philadelphia and no change was made to either their GM, Scott Howson, or their coach, Scott Arniel.

The Blue Jackets are off to the worst start of their unenviable history, going 2-12-1. But one has to think Howson is safe.

He has acquired Mark Letestu from Pittsburgh and Nikita Nikitin from St. Louis. Most teams wouldn't let a GM on his way out make long-term decisions to revamp the franchise.

That puts Arniel on the hot seat, and he had a four-day "start-over" training camp last week. In the first game after, Columbus got smoked 6-3 at home by Chicago.

Everybody wants Sid

It's not just fans who can't wait for Sidney Crosby to make his long-anticipated return from a concussion.

"When you have one of the top players, if not the top player, in the league, you want him to play," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "You want him to be the face of the league. When he's not there, you lose that superstar quality."