Doug Armstrong-GM

Doug Armstrong signed a three-year contract extension with the St. Louis Blues as president of hockey operations on Thursday, and Alexander Steen was named special assistant to the general manager through the 2025-26 season, after which he will become GM, taking over for Armstrong.

Armstrong has led the Blues to the fifth-most regular-season wins (601) in the NHL during his tenure and was named NHL GM of the year in 2012. Under the 59-year-old's leadership, St. Louis has won three Central Division titles, qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 10 of his 14 seasons, and won the Stanley Cup for the first time in its history in 2019.

Blues chairman Tom Stillman said he was not inclined to make the moves when Armstrong initially proposed them but eventually warmed up to the idea.

"I believe we have the best general manager in the League, so the idea of, 'Let's change and get a different one,' at first, I was resistant to that," Stillman said Thursday. "But we just talked and talked over time and I just came to see the value in bringing in a new voice and a new approach, a new face, a new way of doing things at some point. It also helped we had what we consider an outstanding person (in Steen) to do it. It's just coming around to that view.

"The way we've worked this out is we're not losing the best general manager in the business. He's still going to be here to guide Alex, teach him how to do the job and oversee. The job of president of hockey operations is really broad and it covers a lot. In fact, he's the person that will be grooming and developing our new GM. To me, it seemed like this is the best of both worlds."

Armstrong joined St. Louis as director of player personnel on May 29, 2008, after five seasons as GM of the Dallas Stars. He was named Blues GM following the retirement of Larry Pleau two years later.

Armstrong became the 11th GM in NHL history to win 800 games when St. Louis defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in a shootout on March 4. Armstrong, who is the longest-tenured GM in the League, currently ranks 10th all-time in wins (811) and worked his 1,000th game with the Blues on Oct. 24, 2023.

He said he has always had a high opinion of Steen, who played 12 of his 15 NHL seasons with the Blues.

"It started as a player," Armstrong said. "There's certain guys you gravitate to and ask questions about your team and about what they're doing. As players get older, they do reflect more differently on what they want out of the game. So, I've always had a lot of respect for 'Steener.'

"We've had some hard conversations. He's given hard feedback to me, too. It always just wasn't one way. When I started working with him last year, the questions that he'd ask, the passion he had, it just started to, as my mind started to wonder what was best for the team -- it's sort of like a coach, you start out with a lot of candidates -- I just kept coming back to him, coming back to him.

"When I brought it up to Mr. Stillman, he said, 'He doesn't have any experience.' If you take someone you truly believe in, the experience will come. Let's not lose the right person for the wrong reason. ... We're not going to throw him into the deep end in two years. We're going to be here to support him, but I just think he has all of the qualities that you need."

Steen has been St. Louis' European player development consultant since June 26, 2023. The 40-year-old retired from the NHL on Dec. 17, 2020, because of a back injury sustained the previous season, which the Blues said was "multiple levels of degenerative herniated disks of his lumbar spine."

Steen, who was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round (No. 24) of the 2002 NHL Draft, had 622 points (245 goals, 377 assists) in 1,018 games for the Maple Leafs and Blues. He also had 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) in 91 playoff games, including helping St. Louis win the Cup in 2019.

Steen, acquired in a trade with the Maple Leafs on Nov. 24, 2008, is fourth in Blues history in games played (765), 10th in goals (195), sixth in assists (301) and sixth in points (496). Only Brett Hull (102) and Alex Pietrangelo (92) have played more postseason games for the Blues than Steen.

"Hockey has always been my passion in life," Steen said. "That was a unique situation. My son was born the day before (retiring), or before the announcement came. We were going through a pandemic, my body wasn't feeling great, had some family matters that we wanted to be close to. There was just a lot going on. It's difficult hanging them up when you've played since you were pretty much 2 1/2, 3 years old. There was a lot to digest. In private, I go through and think a lot about my decisions and what I think is best.

"I spent a lot of time on this. This isn't just something that was just a quick or snap decision from my part. This is something that my wife and I have spoken about for a long time. She knows my personality and who I am and where my passions lie. It's just kind of grown and then obviously having worked and having as close of a relationship with Doug over such a long time, we've had conversations. The opportunity has kind of grown, but the interest has always kind of been there for me, obviously."

St. Louis was 43-33-6 this season but finished six points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. It was the second straight season the Blues failed to qualify for the postseason.

On May 7, Drew Bannister signed a two-year contract to remain coach after he went 30-19-9 in place of Craig Berube, who was fired Dec. 14.

The Blues on Thursday also promoted Tim Taylor to join Ryan Miller as an assistant general manager. Taylor will continue to oversee player personnel while Miller will oversee salary cap compliance, contract negotiations and other hockey operations responsibilities. independent correspondent Lou Korac contributed to this report