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St. Louis Blues remove interim tag and name Drew Bannister full-time coach

Drew Bannister

Dec 14, 2023; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Blues interim head coach Drew Bannister looks on from the bench during the first period against the Ottawa Senators at Enterprise Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Curry/Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The St. Louis Blues have removed the interim tag from Drew Bannister’s title and named him their full-time coach.

President of hockey operations and general manager Doug Armstrong announced the move.

Bannister, 50, signed a two-year contract to remain in the role after replacing Craig Berube when the 2019 Stanley Cup-winning coach was fired in December. The Blues went 30-19-5 after Bannister took over for Berube and finished six points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

This is Bannister’s first head-coaching gig in the NHL. He previously coached the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League, St. Louis’ top affiliate, for two-plus seasons.

Keeping Bannister fills one of the many potential vacancies this offseason. There have been 16 coaching changes (half the league) over the past year, not counting the need for Winnipeg to find a successor for Rick Bowness, who announced his retirement.

Another could be coming after Toronto lost in the first round for the fourth time in five seasons under Sheldon Keefe. Had his Maple Leafs come back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat Boston in Game 7 on Saturday night, it could have put in jeopardy the job security of Bruins coach Jim Montgomery, who spent two seasons as a Blues assistant on Berube’s staff after his 2019 dismissal in Dallas.