Thunderbirds’ Bannister promoted to Blues

The St. Louis Blues have named Drew Bannister as interim head coach after Craig Berube was relieved of his duties Tuesday night.

Bannister, 49, was in his sixth season as head coach of the Blues’ American Hockey League affiliates, having guided the San Antonio Rampage from 2018 to 2020 before spending the last three years with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Bannister also served as associate head coach of the Utica Comets when St. Louis’s prospects were there during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign.

In Springfield, Bannister led the T’birds to a record of 93-58-19 and consecutive postseason appearances, highlighted by a trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2022.

A defenseman, Bannister was a second-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992 and played 18 seasons of pro hockey, including 204 games in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack, Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and Binghamton Senators. He won a Calder Cup championship with Hartford in 2000. Bannister also appeared in 164 games in the NHL with Tampa Bay, Edmonton, Anaheim and the New York Rangers.

Daniel Tkaczuk will take over the head coaching duties in Springfield on an interim basis.

Tkaczuk, 44, joined the Blues organization in 2016 as an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves, then the club’s AHL affiliate. After spending the 2017-18 season as a skills coach with the Blues, he rejoined the AHL affiliate as an assistant coach under Bannister in 2018, and was promoted to associate head coach in 2022.

The Toronto native was the sixth overall draft pick in the 1997 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames and played 12 professional seasons, including 286 games in the AHL with the Saint John Flames, Worcester IceCats, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Syracuse Crunch, Rochester Americans and Hartford Wolf Pack. Tkaczuk won a Calder Cup championship with Saint John in 2001.