Columbus names Noel head coach

The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved head coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named former Calder Cup champion 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 earned the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year.

Noel becomes the 23rd current NHL head coach who previously directed a bench in the American Hockey League, and the seventh who won a Calder Cup as an AHL head coach, joining Atlanta’s John Anderson, Nashville’s Barry Trotz, the N.Y. Rangers’ John Tortorella, Philadelphia’s Peter Laviolette, San Jose’s Todd McLellan and Washington’s Bruce Boudreau.

"Claude Noel is a good hockey coach with a proven track record in the American Hockey League," said Howson. "He knows our team and is deserving of this opportunity."

Noel spent most of his playing career in the AHL and IHL, winning the 1980 Calder Cup as a member of the Hershey Bears.

Noel was born on Oct. 31, 1955 in Kirkland, Ontario. He and his wife, Linda, are the parents of sons, Christopher and Sheldon.