Craig Berube is still just getting his feet wet when it comes to being the bench boss for the St. Louis Blues. However, he seems to have dipped his toes in gold so far.
Whether you are talking about the St. Louis Blues or any sports team/player or any topic, really, it boils down to a matter of opinion when deciding who is the best of all time. Still, there are always things that are relied upon to help people make those arguments.
When it comes to coaches, the easiest way to decide is games won. Thus, it is hard to argue that Joel Quenneville is the best coach in Blues history, simply because he won the most games.
Despite the cold, hard numbers, some will argue for others. Some might bring up Scotty Bowman, simply because he had success everywhere.
However, despite being in charge of the team for a cup of coffee, Craig Berube has shot up that list. There are a lot of factors that will decide his fate in the minds of fans, but as of this moment in time, he is already near the top and on a path to stay there.
When the Blues beat the San Jose Sharks on December 21, 2019, Berube won his 61st game with the team. That seems an odd number to reference, but it was 61 wins out of 100 games.
That gave him the most wins in team history in his first 100 games. He supplanted Hitchcock in doing so.
Not only did he pass Hitch for wins in 100 games, but he currently has a better winning percentage too. Longevity will be the key. That is the difficult part too.
Staying long enough to be in the argument is tough in its own right.
If you look only at winning percentage, Mike Yeo is actually one of the team’s best. He’s higher than Mike Keenan, Brian Sutter, Jacques Martin and Jacques Demers, Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman. Nobody would consider Yeo as one of the team’s best, mainly because the team all but quit on him, but also because he was not even with the team three full seasons.
How long Berube stays behind the bench will be key to his placement in the all-time argument. As stated, he is already up there and the 61 wins in 100 games is just one reason.
Another reason – perhaps the biggest reason – is the a trophy and ring he helped provide for a long suffering fan base. All the other coaches that anyone brings up cannot say they won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues, but Berube can.
In just 63 games in 2019-20, Berube had a winning percentage .001 better than Hitchcock. A small sample size to be sure, but the impact and importance of each win was so high that it feels like it counts as double.
Then, there is the playoff wins too. In just one playoff run, Berube has more wins than several big names to coach the Blues.
He has the highest win percentage too and that includes going to two seven game series. Poor coach Sutter only has four more playoff wins than Berube and it took him 41 games to get those 20 wins. Berube has 16 wins in 26 games.
A lot of that is out of a coach’s control. You have to have the players and Berube came into a team that had plenty of talent depth, but no direction. Chief gave them direction and purpose.
So far, everything Berube has touched has turned to gold. Every decision he makes either works out immediately or within a couple games. Every time fans start to chirp that this player should get more time or that player needs a look, it seems not long after that Berube gives us a reason to understand why he waited or why they are not quite ready.
It all seems to work out just right for him. That might not hold true forever, but it certainly has now.
Fans clamored for Klim Kostin. Berube showed patience, gave him a taste and then returned him to the minors with the hunger. Fans wondered why Jordan Kyrou was not being called up with all the injuries, but Berube seemed to wait for just the right time, play him just enough that he has improved in almost every game he has featured in so far.
Nobody understood the confidence in Oskar Sundqvist last season and now the big Swede is considered one of the team’s best all-around players. We all questioned Robert Thomas not being thrown into the center position, but the plan of slowly giving him more responsibility seems to be working.
Maybe it will all turn to brass. Maybe the luster of winning a Cup will wear off and Berube will be run out of town like other coaches in other cities.
As of this moment, it is hard to imagine such a turnaround.
Coaches go into every job knowing their are hired to be fired. Still, they hope to last as long as possible in every stop.
Berube seems poised for a very long run with the Blues. If he keeps anything close to his current pace, there is little doubt that Berube will go down as one of, if not the best coach in Blues history. He is already there for some people just because of that one, silver Cup.