Wednesday, September 22, 2021


Thomas officially signs two-year, $5.6 million contract; Hitchcock back, 
Chiarelli promoted to vice president of hockey ops; TV, radio schedule set

ST. LOUIS -- The last piece of the roster puzzle for the Blues has been solved when center Robert Thomas signed a two-year, contract worth $5.6 million on Wednesday ($2.8 million average annual value).

Thomas, 22, was a restricted free agent and would have missed training camp, which begins Thursday, had he not signed his contract.

Thomas will make $2.4 million in base salary this season and $3.2 million next season before becoming a RFA again prior to the 2023-24 season.

The signing puts the Blues over the $81.5 million cap hit, roughly $1.2 million over it, but it is likely that forward Oskar Sundqvist, who is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL, will be placed on long-term injured-reserve at the start of the season, which will give the Blues $2.75 million of cap relief, and once Sundqvist is eligible to return after either 10 games or 24 days, the Blues will have to make a corresponding move to get back under the cap or not carry 23 players.

Thomas is a first-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft who is coming off 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 33 games; in three seasons, he has 87 points (22 goals, 65 assists) in three seasons spanning 169 regular-season games.

* Hitch is back; Chiarelli brought in as vice president of hockey ops -- Former Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is back.

The Blues also announced on Wednesday that Hitchcock will return to where he was previously head coach as a coaching consultant.

Also, former Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli was named as vice president of hockey operations, replacing Dave Taylor, who will stay with the organization in a role of senior advisor to hockey operations.

The 69-year-old Hitchcock, who was recently with the Oilers as a consultant after coaching the Oilers in the 2018-19 season.

Hitchcock coached the Blues from 2011-17, going 248-124-41 in the regular-season. The Blues qualified for the postseason in each of his six seasons, including reaching the Western Conference Final in 2015-16 before losing to the San Jose Sharks in six games. Hitchcock's 248 wins and his 413 games coached are second in Blues history behind Joel Quenneville (307 wins, 593 games coached).

Hitchcock, who was fired by the Blues Feb. 1, 2017, and current Blues coach Craig Berube share a history together in junior hockey and with the Philadelphia Flyers when Hitchcock coached there and Berube was with the Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Hitchcock has also had stints as coach with the Dallas Stars (twice), Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets and ranks fourth in NHL history with 849 wins (849-534-88). 

The 57-year-old Chiarelli began his executive career with the Ottawa Senators after the team hired him as assistant GM in 1999 before being named GM of the Bruins in 2006, serving 10 seasons, including winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

Chiarelli was hired as Oilers president of hockey operations and GM, a role Doug Armstrong serves with the Blues, on April 24, 2015 and spent four seasons in that role.

Chiarelli has been with the Blues in a consulting role the past couple seasons.

* Blues TV/radio schedules set -- All 82 Blues regular-season games this season will be broadcast on the air and over the radio airwaves this season.

Bally Sports Midwest will televise 69 regular-season games in its 25th season as the home of the Blues. In addition, the Blues’ three preseason home games will be streamed live on the Bally Sports app and 

The Blues are scheduled for national television 13 times, either on TNT, ESPN, ESPN+ or Hulu. 

In its third season as the Blues radio partner, 101 ESPN will broadcast every game on the radio, and the 101 mobile app, including each preseason game.

John Kelly and Darren Pang will return as the announcing tandem, and Pang, who joined the TNT national team this past off-season, when he's off doing work there, will be replaced in the booth by former Blue Jamie Rivers.

Rivers and Bernie Federko will serve as on the Blues Live pregame and postgame shows as well as intermission reports. 

Chris Kerber and Joey Vitale will return to call the action on the radio dial at 101 ESPN.

Each game on 101 will feature a one-hour pregame show with 101's Alex Ferrario as well as extended postgame shows.

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