Shortly after a palpable defeat sustained to the Detroit Red Wings, it was announced that St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube was relieved of his duties. With Craig Berube relieved, the team designated Drew Bannister as the interim head coach.
Craig Berube Relieved of his Duties
BREAKING NEWS: Craig Berube has been relieved of his coaching duties and a new interim coach has been named. #stlblues
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 13, 2023
Craig Berube was the crux of the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Blues in 2018-19 as an interim hire himself, overseeing successive playoff runs that ended, at the latest, in the second round. Berube concludes his tenure quite pitifully, losing 59 of his final 109 games as head coach.
A 49-win season in 2021-22 and subsequent second-round elimination in the postseason to the Colorado Avalanche remains Berube’s last winning season with the team. Despite the wealth of problematic areas of the team’s performances accumulated across the last two seasons, a more naturally occurring pattern was the perceived attribute of the team’s regression: the decline of veterans and the transition of the Blues into a retool, marking this decision from the club somewhat surprising.
Blues Outlook with Interim
As the Blues realign focus from Craig Berube, the club’s head coach for the AHL affiliate in Springfield, Drew Bannister, served as the most accessible choice for at least a temporary replacement. Bannister has been long associated with high-end player development as a head coach, with successes in the OHL (such as a 55-7-6 season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) evolving into his professional coaching career.
With the Blues specifically, Bannister has served in his role since 2020, experiencing somewhat parallel success to his now predecessor at the AHL level, heightening at a Calder Cup Finals appearance in 2022. This season specifically, the Thunderbirds rank fourth in the AHL’s Atlantic Division, with a record of 12-8-2 with two games in hand on the third-place Providence Bruins. Now, Bannister seeks to curate the Blues back to a consistent, playoff-calibre performing product.
While Berube’s tenure closes quite sour, his legacy as the orchestrator of the franchise’s first cup is an achievement both parties will not forget to cherish.