July 23rd, 2024

Blues fire Craig Berube, cutting ties with the coach who led St. Louis to its 1st Stanley Cup title

By Warren Mayes, The Associated Press on December 12, 2023.

St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube talks to players during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

ST. LOUIS (AP) – The St. Louis Blues fired Craig Berube on Tuesday night, severing ties with the coach who led the team to its only Stanley Cup title.

Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Berube’s firing hours after a 6-4 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

The loss was the season-worst fourth straight for the Blues, who are off to a 13-14-1 start to the season.

St. Louis is in sixth place in the Central Division, nine points behind division-leading Colorado. The Blues are in 10th place out of 16 teams in the Western Conference.

The Blues rank 26th in the NHL in goals per game (2.82). and have the second-worst power play (7 for 83) in the league at 8.4%.

The 57-year-old Berube guided the Blues to the Stanley Cup championship in 2019. He replaced Mike Yeo as coach Nov. 20, 2018, as the interim coach and led an amazing turnaround. He led St. Louis to a 38-19-6 record in 2018-19.

Berube, in his sixth season with the Blues, had a record of 206-131-44. His win total ranks third in team history. He registered 24 playoff victories in 51 postseason games.

St. Louis led 4-3 going into the third period against Detroit on Tuesday night before giving up two goals and an empty-net goal late, losing for the fifth time in six games.

“You’ve got to earn everything, right? It’s not just going to happen,” Berbue said after the game. “You’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to play the right way to earn it. You’ve got to do the little things right. We did a lot of good things tonight. We scored enough goals to win the game, but in the end, we didn’t take care of the front of our net very well tonight.”

The Blues named Drew Bannister, coach of the Springfield Thunderbirds of the American Hockey League, as interim coach.

The 49-year-old Bannister has been the Springfield coach for three seasons. He lead the team to a 93-58-19 regular-season record. The Belleville, Ontario, native also guided the Thunderbirds to consecutive playoff appearances, including 2021-22, when they won the Eastern Conference and reached the Calder Cup final.

Bannister will be behind the bench on Thursday night, when the Blues host the Ottawa Senators.

Bannister played 164 NHL regular-season games for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and New York Rangers.

The Blues’ coaching change marks the fourth time Armstrong has fired a coach during the season. He fired Davis Payne in 2011, Ken Hitchcock in 2017 and Yeo in 2018.

The Blues are the third team to make a coaching change this season. The Edmonton Oilers fired Jay Woodcroft in mid-November and replaced him with Kris Knoblauch. And, the Minnesota Wild named John Hynes coach just over two weeks ago after firing Dean Evason.

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AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL

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