On June 5th, while yours truly was enjoying summer vacation in the absolutely incredible city of Chicago, the St. Louis Blues announced that Drew Bannister would be the man to take over coaching duties for the San Antonio Rampage. Bannister comes to the Alamo city by way of Sault Ste Marie, ONT where he led the OHL Greyhounds for the last three seasons. I’m imagining that if you are a visitor to this website, you have already read all of the pertinent details about the hiring, so I am NOT going to talk about:
- Soo’s 55-7-6 record last season
- His 136-50-18 record in three seasons in the OHL, all playoff years
- Bannister winning CHL coach of the year
- Bannister having an 18 year pro career, which included a Calder Cup win in 2000
Instead, I want to focus on one quote and tell you why I am in love with this hire.
For Rampage fans, who have had to put up with a certain style of play for the last two seasons, those last seven words are like a beautiful symphony playing a classic. The Rampage, under Eric Veilleux lacked any and all creativity. To an outsider, players appeared to reel in their normal styles in order to “play the system”. Mistakes were punished and, in the AHL, where young players are still learning what can and cannot be done, that can destroy confidence.
The Blues have some serious top-end prospect talent about to make their way through San Antonio. Having a coach like Bannister who will encourage fast paced hockey and creativity should not only make for exciting hockey, but should help those young playmakers blossom into regular NHL players.
Additionally, Bannister worked under Kyle Dubas in the Soo. Dubas, who was recently promoted to General Manager with the NHL Toronto Maple Leafs–at 31 years old with exactly zero professional hockey games played–is considered to be one of the foremost minds on advanced analytics and “possession hockey”. The basic premise is, if you have the puck more than the other team, you will score more and and allow fewer goals.
With a blend of high pace and skill, a system that encourages possession, and quality AHL/NHL level prospects, the 2018-19 season could manufacture another playoff season for a fanbase that is, quite frankly, starving for success.
Featured image courtesy sarampage.com