Columbus Blue Jackets hire Ken Hitchcock as coach. (CPimages)
"I love to teach, I love to coach and I love to build," Hitchcock told The Canadian Press. "I'm going to a great young team. I'm really looking forward to this. It's going to be a great challenge." Hitchcock, fired earlier this season by the Philadelphia Flyers, interviewed with Columbus general manager Doug MacLean on Sunday.
The contract runs through the 2008-09 season. Hitchcock will be formally introduced as the team's fifth head coach at a news conference Thursday. He will direct the Blue Jackets for the first time on Friday in Philadelphia.
Hitchcock takes over from associate coach Gary Agnew, who had been in charge of the team since Gerard Gallant was fired last week because of the team's slow start.
Gallant coached the team for one full season and parts of two others.
At the time of his dismissal, the Blue Jackets were last in the Western Conference's Central Division at 5-9-1-0.
The slide has continued with the team at 5-13-1-0. They have lost six straight.
Dave King led the fledgling franchise for just over the first two seasons before MacLean took over.
After posting a record worse than King's, MacLean stepped aside and elevated Gallant, who had been an assistant with the team since its inception.