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Armstrong hopes to have Blues coach in place by June

Doug Armstrong Blues Doug Armstrong - The Canadian Press

With a busy summer ahead, a coaching search is a top priority for Doug Armstrong, but there are factors that could complicate things for the St. Louis Blues general manager.

Armstrong said on Friday that he hopes to have a new coach in place by June as he spoke at the team's end of season availability.

The Blues are looking to hire a permanent successor for Craig Berube, who was fired in December during his sixth season behind the bench. Berube led the club to their first ever Stanley Cup in 2019.

"It’s not something that I think is going to happen over the next four or five days," Armstrong said of the search. "I’m not going to get into specific names, but some of the names that I want to talk to aren’t available. Their teams are [still] playing [in the playoffs]. And some of the names I want to talk to, I’m going to give a little bit of time. We certainly will have a head coach well before the draft [set for June 28]. I’m thinking well before June 1, but I’m not putting a timeline on it."

Asked if Drew Bannister is a candidate for the permanent role, Armstrong said he is on the shortlist of potential names. The 50-year-old Bannister became the team's interim head coach upon the firing of Berube and led the Blues to a 30-19-5 mark.

"Drew is one of a very small number of people I want to talk to moving forward," Armstrong said. "I thought he did a very good job. I thought he was able to balance getting the best team on the ice every night with a blind eye to putting young players in situations they haven’t been in and living with the results. We had some young players do some really good things, and we had some young players make young mistakes that cost us, but that’s part of growth. So Drew is a finalist for the head coaching position, and that list isn’t extensive."

Berube's successor will be the 22nd permanent head coach in team history.