It is easy to feel like the St. Louis Blues get overlooked nationally, at times. That is not the case regarding their current head coach, Craig Berube.
The St. Louis Blues have had mixed luck with their head coaches in recent history. For every Ken Hitchcock, there is a Mike Yeo (no offense).
Coming in nicely in the middle is Craig Berube. Berube has the strictness of Hitchcock, putting up with no bull. He’s got more a sense of being on the players side, like Yeo.
The job Berube has done with this 2018-19 squad is quite amazing. Getting national recognition is secondary to all that, but it is nice if it comes along.
With that in mind, Berube has been named one of the three finalists for the Jack Adams Award. That is given to the coach who has “contributed the most to his team’s success.”
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If you go by the letter of the wording of this award, it should come down to Berube and Barry Trotz. Trotz took a team that missed the playoffs in 2017-18 to the top of their division, one season after leading the Washington Capitals to the Stanley Cup.
As good a coach as Jon Cooper is, it is hard to argue that he contributed the most to his team’s success. Tampa Bay is loaded with talent, so his job feels like it was more about man-management, even if that is not true.
The job Berube has done cannot be discounted. The Blues locker room was fractured when he took over and he found a way to smooth that over. He also took a team that was in last place in the entire league at the turn of the calendar to a divisional playoff spot and contending for the best record in the Central Division.
“I am proud of Craig for being a finalist for the Jack Adams,” said Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong on the team website. “He and his staff have developed a strong relationship with our players and established a clear sense of direction for our team.”
This is only a regular season award, but it can’t hurt anyone that did not have their vote tallied already that Cooper got eliminated in the first round and Berube is still alive.
Regardless of all that, we should all admire the job that Berube has done. He has made himself into a true head coach of this team after some of us, including myself, were unsure if the Blues should ever take off the interim tag.
The job he did of squashing the locker room issues and bringing this team together to be what they should be has been astounding.
I will not be upset if Berube does not win the Adams Award. Nobody expected Hitchcock to win when he did and he did not when we thought he all would, so nothing surprises me with those awards.
He definitely deserves it though and has at least been recognized three of the best in the league.