When Ken Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne as the coach of the Blues on Nov. 6, he was looking for help.

The Blues didn't need a new voice in the room, they needed a familiar voice to translate a new message. Hitchcock would have to lean on the coaching staff that was in place to implement it. But if the transition was going to be swift and significant, he needed leaders in the dressing room to manage his 200-foot mantra. He needed David Backes.

The Blues have come about under Hitchcock, improving from a 6-7-0 start to a more emphatic 17-9-3. They have points in 14 of 16 games, a 11-2-3 mark since the coaching change and a marvelous 11-3-1 record at home. Not coincidentally, their new captain is off to the most productive start of his career.