St. Louis Blues: What are the expectations in Springfield in 2024-25?

Hockey players in the American Hockey League (AHL) have just as much pressure on them as NHL players. This begs the question: what should St. Louis Blues fans expect from their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, in the upcoming season?
Seattle Thunderbirds v Kelowna Rockets
Seattle Thunderbirds v Kelowna Rockets / Marissa Baecker/GettyImages

Changes are coming to Springfield. Following a lackluster season of 30-37-2, the Springfield Thunderbirds enter the next season with numerous uncertainties.

The Thunderbirds were a playoff team in 2021-22 and 2022-23, led by current St. Louis Blues coach Drew Bannister. They must return to post-season play.

Springfield welcomes new head coach Steve Konowalchuk, who was previously the AHL’s Colorado Eagles associate coach.

Konowalchuk, a seasoned NHL player, spent most of his playing career with the Washington Capitals before ending it with the Colorado Avalanche.

At the age of 51, he possesses extensive NHL playing experience and coaching experience in developmental leagues.

A native of Salt Lake City, Utah, Konowalchuk is itching to make a name for himself in his stop in Springfield.

Can Steve Konowalchuk be the next Drew Bannister?

Seeking to emulate current St. Louis Blues head coach Drew Bannister’s success, Konowalchuk will likely have a handful of promising prospects enter his roster in 2024-25.

Regardless of the team he ends up coaching, Konowalchuk and his new assistants, Chade Wiseman and Jaroslav Modry, will face a tough challenge.

With high expectations, several first-round picks from the St. Louis Blues are expected to join Springfield in the coming seasons.

St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong will have many tough decisions to make in the upcoming weeks. Still, Konowalchuk has the opportunity to make a name for himself, and who knows, maybe even become the next Bannister or Kris Knoblauch, earning his way to an NHL head coaching vacancy.

Everything starts with Konowalchuk’s success in Springfield, and given their previous years under Bannister, Armstrong, and company expect better results in Springfield. The development and skill found in the NHL often starts in the AHL, and Konowalchuk has the potential to create the next wave of stars.

Expectations are high for such young talent.