The label of interim head coach comes with connotations. It can mean you’re good enough to be in the NHL and that you may, or may not be, a long-term solution for any franchise. For Craig Berube, the no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is, old-school coach of the St. Louis Blues, the interim tag doesn’t consume the former hard-nosed winger.
A bad start to the season cost coach Mike Yeo his job in November and circulated rumors that just about anyone from young defenseman Colton Parayko to star winger Vladimir Tarasenko could be traded away. But over the past two months as interim coach, Craig Berube has begun to turn things around — the Blues may be able to make a run at the playoffs and keep general manager Doug Armstrong from selling ahead of the February 25th trade deadline.
After trading for Ryan O’Reilly and signing forwards David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon last summer, the Blues were expected to make the playoffs with ease and contend for the Stanley Cup. Twelve losses in their first 19 games led to the coaching change, and Berube has made an impact with some badly needed consistency.
Berube, who also was interim coach for Schenn and the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-14, has helped the Blues win games by changing their mentality to become more of a north-south team. There was never a shortage of talent, but now the direction of the action is straight toward the net while attempting to eliminate costly turnovers.
More than anything, the Blues need to pile up points to go from last place in the Central Division, at the time of Yeo’s dismissal, to contending for a wild-card position. Berube gets a lot of credit within the locker room for establishing a foundation, and mentality, for success.