Ken Hitchcock wasn't out of work very long.

Just a month after he was fired by the Flyers in October 2006 - in the beginning of a disastrous season - the Columbus Blue Jackets hired Hitchcock to pilot their young team.

To some, the idea of such a quick turnaround might have eased Hitchcock's distress of being blamed for a team's poor play, but it didn't.

"It's hard," Hitchcock said this week. "Getting fired is an unbelievable emotional rollercoaster.

"You want to have success with your team, but when a team is underperforming, coaches get fired. And it's really hard to go through."

But it happens every year. Teams that rely on attendance and performance can't wait for the time it takes to turn things around. And when a team isn't winning, it's usually the coach that goes.

This season the NBA has seen six coaches terminated, and three NHL coaches have already been replaced. Coming into the season, eight of the 30 NHL teams had new coaches - Atlanta, Colorado, Florida, the New York Islanders, Ottawa, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Toronto.

The first NHL coach to get fired this season was Denis Savard, who was cut by the Chicago Blackhawks just four games into the season.

Next was Barry Melrose, a move that most people saw the Tampa Bay Lightning making almost as soon as the season began. The most recent firing was Carolina's Peter Laviolette. The Hurricanes then turned around and replaced him with Paul Maurice, the same guy they sacked before hiring Laviolette.

In every case the teams were playing poorly and management felt it had to get the situation under control. And making one move is better than making several.

"More often than not, it's just easier to get rid of one guy than a number of players," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, who took over for Bob Clarke when Clarke resigned the same day Hitchcock was fired.

"Player movement and salary-cap issues being what they are, it's just easier that way, but more often than not it's not fair."

And the results are not always immediate.

After Hitchcock was let go, the Flyers took a full season to revamp their team and for John Stevens to get things going. In just one season the Flyers went from the bottom of the league to the Eastern Conference finals.

In Tampa, it might take that long again, and the real argument in that situation centers around why Melrose was hired in the first place. Laviolette probably had run his course in Carolina and Maurice took over a team that is not in the same poor shape as Tampa.

Only in Chicago has the switch had a major positive effect. Since Savard was fired, the Blackhawks are where they were expected to be before the season began - second in their division and playing like the hot young team they are.

It's all about chemistry, Hitchcock says. He has been fired twice - by the Dallas Stars, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1999, and the Flyers.

"There are a lot of things that go into it, but when it happens early in the season it's usually after there have been a lot of changes on the team and the chemistry is not there yet," Hitchcock said.

"I'm not sure if someone a lot smarter than me did a study if it would show that it actually makes a difference. I can think of only two times where I think it has. The first was in 2000 when the Devils fired Robbie Ftorek and hired Larry Robinson and they won the Cup and the second was last year when Washington hired Bruce Boudreau. He came in and made a difference right away.

"Other than that I can't think of when it has made an immediate difference, but that's just the nature of the job," Hitchcock said. *