One of the Blues’ question marks at the start of the season was Craig Berube. Would the interim coach survive the rest of the season? Could he fix what had so obviously soured under Mike Yeo? Wasn’t Joel Quennville a better option? Were the Blues rewarding the safe, status quo bet again?
We got our answer starting around the All-Star break, and that answer became more and more emphatic as the season concluded. After a shaky start that looked like the Blues were trying to get their new coach canned too, the Blues righted the ship and learned to play as a team, not as a collection of individual egos. Once that happened, the team proved themselves to be nigh unstoppable down the stretch and despite a few instances of playoff drama, emerged victorious at the end.
As Dan Buffa said, Chief’s the only choice for the Blues, and today the Blues made that choice official. The Jack Adams finalist signed a three year contract extension today.
The Blues’ 38-19-6 record under Berube is even more impressive when you realize that after January 1st, the Blues went 30-10-5, going from an average 8-9-1 record to an incredible run that was the best in the NHL. As Doug Armstrong said in a statement released today, ‘’Craig made an enormous impact on our team when he took over last November. He restored our identity and provided our players with a clear sense of direction.’’
The last part of that statement is key. The Blues looked lost at the start of the season. Berube had a difficult job ahead of him - getting players who were beaten down to believe in themselves and each other again is no easy task. Ten-time Stanley Cup ring owner Larry Robinson had this to say about Berube’s leadership style:
“He made everybody accountable, he held everybody accountable,” Robinson said last Friday from his Florida home. “It didn’t matter who you were or what you did. If you screwed up you heard about it. He’s a really good communicator … if he’s got something to say he doesn’t waste any time saying it. He just grabs the guys right away and talks to them about it.”
He was open, direct, and honest. Believe it or not, people appreciate that.