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St. Louis Blues Coach Drew Bannister says he’s reached ‘the pinnacle of hockey’

The St. Louis Blues logo on the Enterprise Center ice.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues named Drew Bannister head coach and sign him to a 2-year deal. He had been the team’s interim leader for half a season.

Drew Bannister had big skates to fill when he took over as the interim head coach of the St. Louis Blues in December.

He filled them well, turning a temporary job into a full-time position with the National Hockey League team. The Blues removed the interim tag from Bannister Tuesday, after initially hiring him on Dec. 12 to replace Craig Berube, the only head coach to guide the team to a Stanley Cup.

“I think when you start coaching, you look at the levels where you start and where you need to get to," Bannister said. "And certainly, this is the pinnacle of hockey and there’s only 32 of these jobs."

He has a 2-year contract to become the 27th head coach in Blues history and brings in-depth knowledge of the team’s young players after coaching the squad’s farm teams in Springfield, Massachusetts and San Antonio.

Bannister plans to continue building those relationships over the next few weeks.

“I really believe in getting to know the person away from the rink and spending time," he told reporters. "Not really talking about a lot of hockey until we have to do so."

Bannister earned the permanent job by going 30-19-5 as interim coach. That impressed Doug Armstrong, Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager.

"I thought he did a good job in a difficult situation last year," Armstrong said. “And now, having a full training camp and a two-year term to put his stamp on this team, we’re looking forward to that.”

Bannister, 50, has a successful track record with the Blues top farm team in the American Hockey League. He guided the Springfield Thunderbirds to consecutive trips to the playoffs and to that league’s championship series, the Calder Cup Final, in 2022.

Now he is responsible for bringing that success to the sport’s top level. Armstrong is making the expectations clear as the franchise prepares for the NHL draft late next month in Las Vegas.

“We want to win," he said. "There’s no question we want to win.”

Wayne Pratt is the Broadcast Operations Manager and former morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.