St. Louis Blues president John Davidson announced today that the club has extended the contracts for Peoria Rivermen head coach Davis Payne and assistant coach Brent Thompson through the 2010-11 season.
Payne, 38, led the Rivermen to a 43-31-2-4 record and a playoff berth in his first season as an AHL head coach. A native of Kamloops, B.C., he was appointed to his current role on July 8, 2008 after serving as an assistant coach with the club during the 2007-08 campaign.
He came to Peoria after establishing a .691 winning percentage over four years as head coach for the Alaska Aces, Peoria’s ECHL affiliate. The 2006-07 ECHL Coach of the Year, Payne led the Aces to the 2006 ECHL Kelly Cup Championship and also guided the club to three consecutive trips to the Conference Finals; it was the first time in 15 years and only the second time in ECHL history that a team advanced to the ECHL’s Final Four in three straight seasons.
Payne, who owns a 289-142-45 (.654 winning percentage) in seven seasons as an ECHL head coach between Alaska and the Pee Dee (SC) Pride, remains second all-time in ECHL history with 50 postseason victories, 12 of which came during his three years with Pee Dee. A graduate of NCAA Division I Michigan Tech, he appeared in 22 NHL games with the Boston Bruins during his eight-year playing career that spanned 464 games with 324 points (155g, 169a).
Thompson, 38, was originally hired by the St. Louis Blues organization in August 2005 to serve as the assistant coach of Rivermen. Thompson’s major functions include contributing to the development of Blues prospects through on-ice instruction, conditioning work, video breakdown, advance scouting, and player evaluation, among other duties. He also supervises the play of Rivermen defensemen during games and monitors the offseason conditioning programs of Blues prospects.
Prior to becoming the assistant coach of the Rivermen, Thompson played fourteen seasons of professional hockey as a defenseman from 1991 to 2005, seeing action in the National Hockey League (NHL), American Hockey League (AHL), International Hockey League (IHL), and Central Hockey League. Thompson played in 121 career NHL contests over six consecutive seasons from 1991-92 through 1996-97, recording one goal, ten assists, and 352 penalty minutes. Originally selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round, 39th overall, of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Thompson spent the majority of his NHL career with Los Angeles, skating in 81 games as a King over the course of his first three professional seasons.