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|Davis Payne was on the ice Saturday morning for his first practice as head coach of the Blues (Getty Images). |
ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced Saturday that the club has named Davis Payne
as Interim Head Coach. Payne becomes the 23rd coach in the history of the St. Louis Blues replacing Andy Murray, who was relieved of his duties.
“Davis is very knowledgeable of the players in our organization and we feel he is the best candidate to coach our team,” said Davidson. “He has nine winning seasons at the minor league level which includes an ECHL Championship in 2006.
“I would like to thank Andy Murray for the job he has done here the past four seasons,” continued Davidson. “He was an intergral part in turning the St. Louis Blues around. He is a true professional and I wish him the best of luck in the future.”
Payne, 39, was named the 15th head coach of the Rivermen on July 8, 2008 after serving one year as an assistant with the club. This season, Peoria has posted a 19-13-1-2 record combining for a 62-44-3-6 (.578%) overall mark in two seasons with Payne behind the bench. In his first year (2008-09) as an AHL head coach, Payne guided the Rivermen to a 43-31-2-4 record and returned Peoria to the postseason following a two-year drought. Prior to joining the Rivermen before the 2007-08 campaign, Payne had spent a total of seven seasons as a head coach in the ECHL. The Kamloops, British Columbia native established a .691% winning percentage over four years as head coach for the Alaska Aces, the Blues’ ECHL affiliate.
"We feel he's our coach and he might be our coach long term," added Davidson. "It's a whirlwind for him, but we feel confident about him."
The Blues will retain assistants Ray Bennett and Brad Shaw, while Rick Wamsley has replaced Payne as the head coach of the Rivermen.
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. Thirty-eight of Alaska’s 48 lifetime playoff wins had came under Payne’s direction, with his winning percentage in the playoffs (38-21, .644%) nearly matching that of his four regular seasons in Alaska.
Payne, who owns a 289-142-45 (.654%) in seven seasons as an ECHL head coach between Alaska and the Pee Dee 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, Payne appeared in 22 National Hockey League (NHL) games with the Boston Bruins and played a total of eight professional seasons . He was originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the seventh round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.
"I don't know where the emphasis has been, but I asked these guys to work hard for each other, I asked them to trust each other, and I asked them to play with passion," Payne said at a press conference on Saturday. "That's our starting point to tonight."