For those that were under a rock, the St. Louis Blues relieved Craig Berube of his coaching duties on December 13. While there are many passionate opinions on both sides, I think it was the wrong decision.
I understand the logic behind it. St. Louis had the option of trading off several key free agents in 2022-23 when the season went south.
In 2023-24, don't have any key free agents and the ones they do have aren't likely to fetch more than the seventh-round draft choice they got for Robert Bortuzzo. So, if you can't make changes to the roster easily, changing the coach is essentially a general manager's only other option.
However, Berube is a great coach. Anyone that thinks otherwise is a fool.
He helped guide a team to a Stanley Cup championship with a roster that was talented, but had to win on grit and determination. That team was not going to out-talent many teams, so they needed to out work them and they did.
Berube's teams simply wore everyone down for three years. They won a Cup, would have won a second - or at least seriously challenged for it - if not for the Covid shutown and probably would have gone farther in the 2022 playoffs if not for Nazem Kadri running over Jordan Binnington.
Now, because the players stopped listening to the message, one of the best coaches in Blues history is gone. I acknowledge the fact something had to be done, but think on that. Berube was only the coach for three full seasons and parts of six and yet he is third in franchise history in wins.
Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise. Ken HItchcock only got part of six seasons. Joel Quenneville got part of seven seasons. Coaches don't last.
What bothers me is this constant idea that the message was lost. He wasn't able to motivate guys the same way.
You're a professional hockey player. Motivate yourself for crying out loud.
You are living a dream. Yes, in certain aspects any job in the world can suck, but you are getting paid hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to play a game.
The fact the team had stopped doing what they were asked makes them bad players and unprofessional in my opinion. Why are sports treated so differently?
I've worked several jobs in my lifetime and I am sure many of you have as well. We often did not care for our bosses or the way we were told to do our jobs. Yet, if we were good employees, we did the job and tried to do it well.
This garbage of a disciplinarian being too tough on skilled guys or not being able to relate to younger players is just stupid. You are an employee of the St. Louis Blues and your superior is asking you to perform certain tasks.
The fact that a contract prohibits you from being fired is not relevant. If you are not doing your job, it is your fault. No sane person thinks a slacker at a department store or restaurant is going to not be a slacker if they have a different manager.
The current group lacks work ethic for some reason. There is not a single thing Berube was asking them to do that should not be within their skill set and it was also proven to win in the playoffs.
Ask any Stanley Cup champion - they had to change their game to actually win. You can't just glide around and play pond hockey in the playoffs. You have to hustle every shift, be strong on the puck and be physical. Those are all things Berube was asking, even of his stars, and they stopped providing.
What bugs me is that if the Blues get the stereotypical boost, the social media morons will quickly say "see, it was the coach all along." The reality of the situation is that I will bet the team gets two or three wins pretty early on and then tailspins right back to what we have seen so far this season.
It's too disorganized to be the fault of one man. Berube's teams have had decent power plays in the past, but the last couple seasons they've been awful. Schemes needed to be tweaked, but the players needed to do better.
When the Blues won the Cup and had success in seasons afterward, they rushed in on the forecheck with gusto. The last two seasons, they gave a half-hearted effort and often saw rush chances the other way because nobody came that close to disrupting anything. That is on the players.
Eventually, the players just have to perform. This idea that a coach can walk in a locker room, flip over a table and chew everyone out and have that be effective is also nonsense. That would get old, especially with as up and down as the Blues have been of late.
Doug Armstrong knows this too. I think he is just at a loss for how to get the team on track.
I just don't see a new head coach making a difference. Berube was not the problem with the power play. He cannot get out on the ice and force forwards to properly back check.
I just feel this is a mistake. Though things work out in the long run, it proved to be a mistake to let Quenneville go. It proved to be a mistake to let Hitchcock go and let Mike Yeo take over.
Maybe the Blues strike gold with Drew Bannister or maybe they bring in another coach that can put a spur under guys. I just think this team is mentally weak and not likely to succeed in the playoffs if we start catering to guys that wanted a softer voice in the locker room.