The St. Louis Blues coaching staff seemed the least likely spot for a change going into 2018-19. Interestingly enough, that is the place the first official change came.
The St. Louis Blues announced some coaching changes for 2018-19. One former member of the team will be joining the coaching staff and another will be exiting.
According to Sydor, the reason is to spend more time with his family. Hockey had been good to him, but Sydor puts family first.
"“After almost 30 years in professional hockey, I am confident that now is the right time to step away from the game,” said Sydor on Blues.com. “Hockey has given me more than I could have ever dreamed for, but my family is the most important thing in my life, and I want to focus all of my attention on them.”"
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Not to be cynical, but hopefully the reason given is the real reason for Sydor’s exit. Saving face is fine, but if the reason was performance, we should know. Either way, he has earned his time with his family.
Sydor spent 18 seasons in the league as a player. He then spent several more years as an assistant coach, many of them with Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild and the one season with the Blues.
Coincidentally enough, one season with Sydor seems to be a thing with the Blues. He only played in 47 games with St. Louis before retiring in 2010. Now, he only had one season with the team behind the bench.
Sydor’s time in St. Louis as a coach was disappointing. We have no clue what aspects of the team he was in charge of, but many thought he would help the defense and power play. He was a solid puck mover, racking up 409 assists in his day, and put in 43 career power play goals at a time when defenders were not overly offensive.
When he was hired for the Blues staff, it seemed like a solid match. Sydor could help out the young defensive core of St. Louis and help supply ideas for the power play. Whether it was personnel or fit or simply Mike Yeo’s scheme, Sydor didn’t have the impact hoped for as an assistant.
Now, the Blues look to another former defenseman who was in St. Louis for a cup of coffee. Van Ryn was with the organization for three seasons, but only played in 69 games. He amassed 30 goals and 129 points over his eight year career, but only two goals and 13 points with the Blues.
Van Ryn has a good amount of coaching history though. After retiring in 2009, he began coaching as an assitant in the OHL with Niagra. He went on to join the Houston Aeros before becoming head coach with Kitchener of the OHL. He should have some knowledge of prospect Luke Opilka since both were with the Rangers at the time.
Van Ryn’s last stops before St. Louis were as head of development in Arizona and then head coach of the Tuscon Roadrunners of the AHL. He led that team to a Pacific Division title last season.
Again, the impact of this may be minimal. Most fans will shrug their shoulders. The fact is, your average fan could not tell you the names of any assistants.
However, the issue for me goes back to Sydor. If he truly left for his family, we should all wish him well. If it was Yeo’s way of making changes without “firing” anyone, then it seems a little dirty. It happens all the time in all sports, but I’ve never warmed up to these cover up reasonings.
Whether Van Ryn makes a difference remains to be seen. Hopefully he will have a positive impact. An assistant can only change so much, though, without the head coach making the necessary adjustments for this club to be successful.