The Blues finally have taken the interim tag off of coach Craig Berube.
St. Louis announced Tuesday it has given Berube a three-year deal to be the team’s official head coach. He was named the interim coach Nov. 20 after Mike Yeo was relieved of his duties following a 7-9-3 start to the season.
Berube led St. Louis to a 38-17-6 record over the remainder of the season and a second-place finish in the Central Division.
More importantly, he led the Blues to their first Stanley Cup in franchise history as St. Louis defeated the Bruins in seven games after defeating the Jets, Stars and Sharks to get to the championship series.
“Craig made an enormous impact on our team when he took over last November,” general manager Doug Armstrong said, via the team’s website. “He restored our identity and provided our players with a clear sense of direction and purpose. The chemistry and trust that he developed with our players was integral in bringing our franchise the 2019 Stanley Cup.”
The biggest move Berube made may have come in early January when he replaced starting goaltender Jake Allen with 25-year-old rookie Jordan Binnington. At that point in the season, the Blues had the worst record in the NHL at 16-18-4.
After Binnington was named the starter, the Blues went 29-10-5 and earned a spot in the playoffs. Binnington went 24-5-1 as the team’s top goalie in the regular season and eventually set a rookie record with 16 playoff victories.
Binnington finished second in the Calder Trophy voting for the NHL rookie of the year.
As good as Binnington was, the defense improved substantially when the rookie took over. It gave up significantly less shots and forced more turnovers in the opponents’ zones, which led to more scoring on the offensive end.
That physical play became the hallmark of the Blues’ playoff run and slowed down a Bruins’ team that swept the Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals and had the second-best record in the NHL.
Berube earned his promotion by making the right move in net for the organization as well as helping the team find a hard-nosed identity leading the Blues to a historic second-half and postseason run. His performance as the leader of St. Louis earned him a third-place finish for the Jack Adams Award which rewards the NHL’s coach of the year.
“This is a proud day for me and my family,” Berube said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for this team and this organization and the city of St. Louis has embraced me as one of their own. This past season was the experience of a lifetime and I’m anxious to get started on our title defense.”