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Blues make changes to coaching staff

Bennett, Thomas, Wilson and Conklin won't return for 2017-18 season

by St. Louis Blues / Press Release

ST. LOUIS - Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Tuesday that assistant coaches Ray Bennett, Steve Thomas and Rick Wilson would not be returning for the 2017-18 season.

In addition, goalie development coach Ty Conklin is also not returning.

"I would like to thank Ray, Steve, Rick and Ty for their service to the Blues and wish them nothing but the best of luck in the future," Armstrong said.

Currently, only Yeo and video coach Sean Ferrell remain on the team's coaching staff.

"Having Mike (Yeo) start his first full season with a fresh staff I think will rejuvenate the organization and also give Mike a hand in picking his coworkers right from scratch," Armstrong said during a media conference call Tuesday. "I thought with the situation we are in now, the timing was right. We're continuing to build a foundation, and for Mike to have the best chance for success, I want him to have full control over the people he's going to choose to work with."

Armstrong said he would like to have the coaching vacancies filled before the NHL Draft, which takes place June 23-24 in Chicago. He also said that Chicago Wolves coaches Craig Berube, Darryl Sydor and Daniel Tkaczuk would be considered for the positions.

Video: Armstrong on coaching changes, AHL affiliation

"All three of those guys did a very strong job for us this year in the American Hockey League, not only with winning the division and advancing into the second round of the playoffs, but also the development," Armstrong said. "When we brought up a (Magnus) Paajarvi or we brought up a (Ivan) Barbashev, we saw a real improvement not only in their physical part of the game, but their preparation and mental part of the game was at a level we're very excited about. All three of those guys did a fantastic job.

"Mike and I have talked and all three guys are in consideration to be discussed in some fashion for Mike's staff, but we're not going to limit it to that group right now," Armstrong added. "If they are the best guys after a thorough review, that's who we'll go with. But we want to talk to those guys and we also want to keep our mind open to different people."

Bennett spent 10 seasons on the Blues coaching staff after being hired on Dec. 13, 2006. Prior to his tenure with St. Louis, Bennett spent seven seasons as an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings.

Thomas spent one season with the Blues after two seasons as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Wilson also spent one season with the Blues after spending five with the Minnesota Wild. He wore the Blue Note as a player from 1974-76 and has been behind an NHL bench in various roles for the past 28 seasons.

Conklin had served as the club's goalie development coach since July 2013 and played 215 career NHL games - including 51 with the Blues.

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