Breaking: Blues Closing In On Deal To Appoint 51 Year-Old As Head Coach

Breaking: Blues Closing In On Deal To Appoint 51 Year-Old As Head Coach

GM Doug Armstrong has a small list of possibilities and expects a decision before the NHL draft.

Will Drew Bannister return as head coach of the St. Louis Blues next season?

That was the most pressing topic for General Manager Doug Armstrong at Thursday’s press conference to close up the 2023-24 season.

Will he take the interim tag off Bannister’s title? Or will Armstrong take a different approach behind the bench?

“[Drew Bannister] is going to be a candidate for the head coaching job,” Armstrong told reporters at Centene Community Ice Center. “When we made the coaching change (from Craig Berube), I was making a list of potential coaches. The list was long and wide, and as I watched him and our team execute, I began to scratch persons off it, and Drew is now one of only a few people I want to talk to about it going ahead.

“So to answer that question, Drew is a now a finalist for the head coaching position and that list isn’t extensive.”

On December 12, when Berube was removed of his duties, the Blues were 13-14-1.

Since Bannister made his NHL debut behind the Blues bench on December 14, the team has gone 30-19-5, just missing out on a Western Conference Wild Card spot.

“For me, the situation that I came into was difficult, no doubt about it,” Bannister said Thursday. “But, in retrospect, I believe I thrived in this scenario and grew into a better coach and person as a result. This was an excellent learning experience for me, and I will be able to draw many positives from it in the future.

“Certainly we’re sitting here talking about a season that we’re all disappointed in, and we certainly want to be at this point of the year getting ready to play the first game of the playoffs,” Bannister said in a statement. “I have no doubts about this bunch after reflecting on the past year and summer… I absolutely believe in this bunch, and at this time next year, we’ll be holding a news conference to announce who we’ll be facing in the first round of the playoffs.”

While Bannister stated that remaining as the Blues’ head coach is his top priority, Armstrong stated that he does not plan to make that choice in the coming days — but he does intend to have an answer long before the NHL Draft.

Armstrong declined to discuss specific prospects, but did indicate NHL coaching experience would not be required. He also stated that certain coaches are unavailable for comment at this time due to their teams’ ongoing games.

“We certainly will have a coach before the Draft, but I’m not putting a timeline on it because it’s not an extensive group,” Armstrong said in an interview. “I’ve whittled it down to a very, very small number.”

“I understand the process and what they’re going through, and when I first came in, there were no promises made,” Bannister said. “I think we saw a lot of good things happen that we can build on for next year.”

 

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