The St. Louis Blues still have some spots to fill as far as assistant coaches go. While there is a clear cut favorite, one of the outsiders would be an interesting, if not risky choice.
As far as St. Louis Blues assistant coach candidates, there is a name at the front of most people’s lists. Craig Berube is the name that most people figure will fill the spot.
Some scratch their heads as to why he has not been hired already. As guessed by myself and seconded by Blues beat writer Jeremy Rutherford, Berube is holding out hope for head coaching spots. If those do not come, he will likely get the open spot with the Blues.
That said, there are some outsiders as far as names the team might consider. None are as outside of the box as Steve Ott was, but the team made that hire so nothing is off the table now.
Former Montreal and Pittsburgh head coach, Michel Therrien is an interesting name that is being discussed. Though you cannot talk up his experience enough, there is definitely a risk/reward aspect to hiring Therrien.
First, let’s go into the risks. They are not many, but they are potentially high.
Therrien has spent almost no time as an assistant coach. That might not seem like a big deal, and probably would not be, but you don’t know how well he would concede control.
Since he’s never really had to answer to anyone, would he be able to take direction from someone younger than he is? Assistant coaches are usually more relatable, but if he has always been the head coach could he make that change?
Granted, guys like Steve Ott and Darryl Sydor could easily handle the whole barrier between the head coach and players role. Still, if you have two guys with head coach mentality on the bench, it might cause some interesting relationships.
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Mike Yeo is new enough in his reign in St. Louis that the entire relationship worry that occurred between Yeo and Ken HItchcock should not be a problem. I can’t see the Blues wanting to fire Yeo that quickly that Therrien would even have an inkling of taking over.
However, he would clearly want to get back into the head coaching game. While that is the goal of any coach, you want some continuity on your staff. Hiring Therrien might mean you are looking for his replacement in a season’s time.
Additionally, what does he bring to the table? Therrien has been in charge of some of the most talented teams in the last decade. However, he has not been able to get any of them over the top.
Dan Bylsma won with Therrien’s team in Pittsburgh. Montreal was never quite on par with Washington, but in terms of regular season success to playoff failure, they have been a little close.
Can you make the argument that Therrien has had enough to do with his team’s success that he would add something to the Blues staff other than saying he was a head coach?
While those same arguments can be made against Berube too, he already has familiarity with the Blues players. He has shown that he can get the most out of some guys we had left for dead.
Therrien would bring more of the unknown. That does not mean he might not be a beneficial addition.
Clearly anyone that makes it all the way to the ranks of head coach in the NHL knows a thing or two about the game. You or I might question their tactics here or there, but there is no knocking their knowledge of hockey.
On top of that, Therrien would bring a different view point. To this point, the Blues have gone very young for their staff.
Yeo is 43, Sydor is 45 and Ott is 34. While that makes them much more relatable for the players, there is still something to be said for more old school thinking.
The political realm may have completely abandoned the idea, but it used to be wise thinking to get varying viewpoints in a room. You toss all your different ideas into the mix and, if the working relationship is strong, the best comes out of it.
Yeo has a ton of respect for Therrien from their days in Wilkes Barre/Scranton. Unless something extremely odd happened during this potential pairing of the two, it seems hard to believe it would not be a solid addition to the staff.
I still maintain that the team will hire Berube, assuming he does not get a head coaching job somewhere else. However, with Ott’s hiring coming out of left field, nothing can be taken for granted.
There are definitely risks to hiring Therrien to be an assistant. If he believes he can help the team and the Blues do too though, then it would be worth a shot.