The St. Louis Blues have struggled to get much of anything going this season despite a summer in which they overhauled their forward position, and now someone needed to pay the price. Last night the team relieved head coach Mike Yeo of his duties, installing Craig Berube as interim head coach. St. Louis management held a press conference this morning to discuss the move, which is sure to spark plenty of speculation over whether recently fired Joel Quenneville is on his way back to the Blues.
Larry Robinson will be joining Berube’s staff for the immediate future, coming down from his role as a senior consultant to help behind the bench. The team also did not rule out an in-season hiring of their next head coach, a role that Berube will be in the running for but is not guaranteed. Quenneville’s existence on the open market certainly will be taken into account, though it is not clear if the former Chicago Blackhawks head coach wants to get back into the league this season.
For the Blues, this was an inevitable move after their early season struggles. The team went all-in during the offseason by trading for Ryan O’Reilly and signing players like David Perron and Tyler Bozak, but were unable to put it all together. At 7-9-3 the team sits last in the Central Division and just two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for last place in the entire NHL. Those Kings just happened to defeat the Blues 2-0 last night, in a game which saw rookie netminder Cal Petersen stop all 29 shots that St. Louis directed towards the net.
Yeo had been groomed as the head coach of the Blues since being hired while Ken Hitchcock was still behind the bench, but never did work out for the team. After being unable to find much success in the playoffs with the Minnesota Wild, he joined the Blues in 2016 and was taking over for Hitchcock less than a year later. That playoff failure repeated in the 2017 playoffs, and Yeo was unable to get the Blues back to the postseason at all last year.
Berube has an extremely difficult task ahead of him, though he certainly is qualified. The former winger played more than 1,000 games in the NHL during a long playing career, and has held various coaching roles since his retirement in 2004. He took over as head coach of the Phildelphia Flyers when Peter Laviolette was abruptly removed just a few games into the 2013-14 season, and guided that team to the playoffs. He’ll now try to do the same for a struggling St. Louis club a few years later.