Blues alumni Mike Van Ryn may soon be an “alumni coach” if the Arizona Coyotes have anything to say about it. Van Ryn, who played for the Blues from 2000-2003, has been their defensive coach and has worked with the team since 2018.
The Coyotes parted ways with their former head coach Rick Tocchet in early May. It was, as Tocchet and general manager Bill Armstrong made clear, a mutual decision. The Coyotes looked to be on a competitive upswing this season, challenging for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division. They missed the postseason by nine points as they faded down the stretch.
Bill Armstrong was the Blues’ assistant general manager and director of amateur scouting before being hired last season to helm the Coyotes. Van Ryn, before being hired by the Blues in 2018, was the coach of the AHL’s Tuscon Roadrunners. The Roadrunners are the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, which by itself makes Van Ryn well known to the organization. Van Ryn also was the Coyotes’ development coach for the 2016-2017 season.
Between the Arizona connection and the Armstrong connection, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Van Ryn turn the Blues’ defensive coaching position over to someone new within the next month.
Van Ryn’s job has become more difficult here since the Blues’ Stanley Cup win two years ago, with the departures of Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson, and Carl Gunnarsson. In Arizona, Van Ryn’s defensive future is strong, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jakob Chychrun. Their veteran leadership has come from Niklas Hjalmarsson and Alex Goligoski, but this season that could change as both are UFAs and it’s unclear if Armstrong intends to re-sign either player.
Veteran turnover would be old hat at this point to Van Ryn.