ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Blues have plenty of decisions to make when it comes to what changes will be made for next season, including whether to re-sign unrestricted free agents like David Backes and Troy Brouwer - but the search to replace Associate Coach Brad Shaw and Assistant Coach Kirk Muller is over.
The team announced Monday that Mike Yeo will join the club as associate coach, while Rick Wilson will join the staff as an assistant coach. Ray Bennett (assistant coach), Jim Corsi (goalie coach) and Sean Ferrell (video coach) will also return.
Yeo will take over as the club’s head coach in 2017-18 following the departure of Ken Hitchcock, who is entering his final season behind the bench.
“We’re excited to have Mike Yeo join us an an associate coach for next season and to become the next head coach for the St. Louis Blues for three years after that,” Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said. “For being 42 years old, he’s got a lot of experience. He’s won a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh, he’s taken an American League team to the finals and you saw the good job he did in Minnesota in taking that team to the second round. What excites me is his experience, but with his age, he can really relate to today’s players and it’s an exciting day for our team.”
"Wherever I go, I know I want to be surrounded by good people. I know we have that (in St. Louis)," Yeo said. "From ownership, to management, to coaches to the team that they've built, I really feel like this is a place where I can be successful. I want to win Stanley Cups, and I believe that we've got a group that should go into every season with that mentality. I'm really excited about that."
Yeo spent the majority of the last five seasons as the head coach of the Minnesota Wild, leading the club to a 173-132-44 record, including a 46-28-8 mark in 2014-15, which was the second-best mark in Wild history. Yeo also guided Minnesota to three postseason appearances, including back-to-back trips to the second round in 2014 and 2015.
Prior to his stint in Minnesota, Yeo spent one season as the head coach of the AHL’s Houston Aeros, where he led the club to the 2011 Calder Cup Final. He also spent 10 seasons in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization, including four seasons as an assistant coach, where he captured the 2009 Stanley Cup. Yeo's first six seasons in the organization were spent as an assistant with the Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“I feel really confident that the team and the franchise is going to be in great shape with Mike at the helm,” Hitchcock said.
Wilson, a former Blues defenseman, has been behind an NHL bench in various roles for the past 27 seasons, including stints as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders (1988-89), Los Angeles Kings (1989-92), Minnesota North Stars (1992-93) and Dallas Stars (1993-2002), where he captured a Stanley Cup in 1999 as part of Hitchcock’s staff.
“When you have success with someone, there’s a lot of confidence,” Hitchcock said of working with Wilson again. “I just feel like Rick has this aura about him that he can really get the defense to play with passion and an edge. I think that’s the next growth pattern for the group back there.”
“What excites me about working with Rick Wilson again is that I saw what he did with a young defense in Dallas,” Armstrong added. “I (also) saw what he was doing with a young defense in Minnesota. I think (Colton) Parayko and (Petteri) Lindbohm and (Joel) Edmundson are really going to enjoy Rick and what he can provide them.”
“We feel like we’ve got a great staff,” Hitchcock added. “It’s a staff that’s really connected to each other and sees the game in a similar fashion. For the future and for the present, we’re in terrific shape. We’ve got people that are teachers first and coaches second.
“I think it’s going to allow the players to grow more.”