After two years as head coach of the AHL’s Blues team in San Antonio, Bannister was hired to coach the Blues’ new subsidiary – Springfield (Mass.) Thunderbirds.
Bannister has not arrived in Springfield yet. On January 4, the day after the Blues reported training camp, Springfield announced that he would be discontinuing the season due to COVID-19 reasons. The Blues reached an agreement with Utica, as Trent Cole was starting his fourth season as head coach.
Bannister became the assistant technical director.
“Working under Trent this year has been an amazing experience for me,” Bannister said. “I learned a few things about how to manage things, what I liked, and maybe changes I’m going to make. Different ideas.
“It gives you a different perspective on the game, and how you deal with the players. I appreciate this year in that fact for myself.”
Bannister didn’t retire as a player until 2012. So for someone still relatively new to the coaching game, particularly at the pro level, it was a valuable learning experience to watch Cole run the show in Utica.
Bannister still manages, by his estimation, about 40 percent of every exercise. He ran the power play and pre-consult video. But Cull was still the head coach.
The bottom line, however, is Bannister’s mission is to advance the prospects into the blues of the future. And for these guys, this has been a rough season – unlike any other.