The St. Louis Blues have not officially removed the interim tag from Craig Berube’s title. Doug Armstrong did everything but in the latest press conference.
The St. Louis Blues held a brief press conference after arriving in San Jose for their Western Conference clash with the San Jose Sharks. Interestingly, Blues general manager, Doug Armstrong was anything but coy during this meeting with the media.
One reporter started off with the question that had been on every sports talk host’s mind – why is Craig Berube still listed as an interim coach. Armstrong was very forthright, to the point and did everything but officially remove the title.
You can check out the full video at this link. The Cliff Notes version is Armstrong said his list is down to one and that one is Berube.
Armstrong admitted that he had a very long list, or so he says anyway. Clearly, one would have to assume that Joel Quenneville heading to retirement central with the Florida Panthers made this decision a heck of a lot easier.
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With the turnaround that Berube has orchestrated, it would have been almost impossible to imagine anyone else getting the job that did not have three Stanley Cups on their resume. As many good coaches as anyone might think are out there, it just would not have made much sense to start from scratch given how this group has responded to Berube.
Another interesting tidbit from the press conference was how down to Earth Berube has been. When asked what surprised him about Berube, Armstrong noted that he managed to discard all of Armstrong’s preconceived notions of what kind of coach today’s players need.
“I learned quite a bit working with Craig,” said Armstrong. “I think working in management, you look around and you read and you try to take things from other businesses outside of sport with Gen Z and Gen X and all that and you’re trying to understand what makes these younger players tick. In reality, what I learned from Craig is they’re hockey players. They want to be coached. They want to be treated honestly, respectfully and held accountable.”
“My vision was we were always trying to create something that really wasn’t necessary,” Armstrong continued. “These are hockey players and whether it was the 80’s, 90’s or today, they just want to be coached.”
One other thing of interest in describing Berube was Armstrong said he was a very personable man, but one that does not waste his words. So, you know you have to sit up and pay attention when he is talking to you.
This all basically confirms what many of us had come to realize. Berube is pretty much a really good mix of old-school and new.
He has the no nonsense approach of a Ken Hitchcock, but he does not just beat every message to death. He relates to players without coming off as somewhat wishy washy.
He lets players know what is expected of them and has the guts to bench certain guys when necessary. However, at least in his short tenure, he has not let players languish in the dog house with no avenue for return. He also has not shown a proclivity toward playing favorites.
So, in the end, what we all knew was almost inevitable is inevitable. Berube will be the coach for 2019-20 and, one would assume, beyond.
The only thing left to do, after the season according to Armstrong, is dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Financial compensation will be another thing of note.
Ultimately, I was apprehensive about giving him the full time reigns out of fear it would be another Mike Yeo scenario where the team plays hard for a new coach initially and reverts to type the following year. That said, I do not believe Berube would allow that to happen.
He is not the second coming of Scotty Bowman. He is not perfect and has shown an ability to almost wait too long to make changes. Even so, he seems to be the right man for this job.