St. Louis Blues Drew Bannister Is A Good Coach, But Not For This Team

St. Louis Blues Drew Bannister looks on
St. Louis Blues Drew Bannister looks on / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

When the St. Louis Blues announced they had signed Drew Bannister to a two-year contract extension, personally, I just kind of rolled my eyes. This was the expected move by most, but it just felt very meh.

However, the problem actually stems from the team more than the coach. So, it begs the question of what other choice did the Blues have.

Doug Armstrong could have waited until the playoffs were over to fully see who might be available. Maybe you go after an assistant from one of the top teams or go down the re-tread route. Joel Quenneville is still out there, but that is going to be a PR nightmare for whoever tries it.

Gerard Gallant was out there. I might have liked to see him at least get an interview.

However, Armstrong felt the best fit was the man who already led a slight turnaround in 2023-24. The Blues did go 30-19-5 under Bannister, which if you lump the OT losses in is still a record above .500.

"You're just looking, like: 'Is there any better out there? Is there something different that we're missing?" Armstrong said Tuesday on a video call with reporters, as reported by ESPN. "We just came back to our group that Drew had done what we'd asked him to do. We see progression. We see someone that's earned the right to take the reins and we move forward."

I'll be honest, I don't have a great answer for what the Blues should have done. I'm not even arguing against Bannister. It just doesn't feel like the right move.

I actually believe Bannister is and can be a good coach in the NHL. The issue I have is he doesn't seem like a great fit for this team, as currently constituted.

They did finish above .500 and got back into the playoff race. The team also saw improvement in both power play percentage and goals against average.

However, the Blues continued to have many of the same issues under Bannister as they did under Craig Berube. There was an initial turnaround from the coaching change, but after that, the Blues went from a sure playoff team to a huge slide to fighting for their playoff lives until the last week of the season.

I'd be more comfortable with this team's ability to play the way Bannister wants if they had found more consistency down the stretch. In his press conference, Armstrong mentioned he believes Bannister having a full training camp can really put his stamp on this team, but I just don't see how much that might make a difference.

Perhaps I'm seeing it wrong and Bannister is a completely different coach with a different system. During his part of the 2023-24 season, however, he pretty much seemed like Berube-lite. There were subtle differences, but not a ton.

When Ken Hitchcock took over for Davis Payne, his win percentage wasn't markedly different than that of Bannister, but you saw a vast difference in the team and it's style when compared to the end of Payne's run as coach. I didn't see a big change past those first six games or so with Bannister.

I do like his overall philosophy. Bannister isn't afraid to bench star players when they aren't doing what he expects from them.

That's an attribute most fans love in any coach, especially when the fanbase thinks a certain guy isn't putting in the effort they want. We have seen how that ends in St. Louis.

Hitchcock and Berube weren't fired because they weren't great coaches. They had rubbed enough of the locker room the wrong way, or the "message got stale", that the team gave up on them.

If Bannister is trying to play hardball with guys who have already underperformed from a coach that proved his style could win a championship, what real chance does the new bench boss have in St. Louis? It feels low.

I hope I'm wrong. This team still has plenty of building to do to be a championship quality squad, but they do have enough talent to make the playoffs. They need to play up to their potential instead of being a bunch of individual head cases.

Bannister's intangibles and leadership capabilities actually make him a good coach and I think he could be a success elsewhere. Unless there's a decent change in the current roster, it just feels like this team will hit that same mid-season rut under him as well.