After falling 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings, the St. Louis Blues fired Mike Yeo, naming Craig Berube interim head coach late on Monday night.
This continues an astoundingly terrible November for NHL head coaches. Last season, there were no in-season firings across the league. Yeo now stands as the third head coach in November alone, following John Stevens and Joel Quenneville.
Considering that the Kings fired Stevens, you almost wonder if Willie Desjardins exchanged a knowing glance with Berube at some point.
The timing is interesting, even beyond the coaching change happening after the Blues lost to another team that fired its head coach.
Despite landing Ryan O'Reilly – who’s been absolutely fantastic in St. Louis – the Blues fell to 7-9-3, suffering their third shutout loss in four games. The Blues currently rest in last place in the Central with 17 standings points; only the lowly Kings rank lower in the West with 15.
Such a start simply wasn’t acceptable for the Blues, particularly after Yeo failed to take them to the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Yeo leaves the Blues as an in-season firing not that long after being an in-season replacement. He took over for Ken Hitchcock during the 2016-17 season, coaching in 32 regular-season games as the Blues rallied to a postseason spot. Yeo was able to exact some revenge against his former team, the Minnesota Wild, as the Blues won the series in six games.
That would end up being the only playoff round Yeo would win as Blues head coach. They fell in six games to the Nashville Predators, and then St. Louis failed to earn a postseason berth in 2017-18. Now, 19 games into 2018-19, the Blues have made another change.
Much like Yeo, Berube traveled a path from NHL head coach (with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-14 and 2014-15) to assistant with the Blues, ultimately replacing Yeo now.
Teams certainly don’t aim to replace coaches, but especially while a season is in full swing. With that in mind, longtime Blues GM Doug Armstrong has to be feeling some serious heat after making that decision twice in three seasons.
As wily as Armstrong’s been at times (landing ROR, handily winning the Brayden Schenn trade, deftly timing the Kevin Shattenkirk trade), the Blues have been “good, but not good enough” for far too long.
Yeo wasn’t a disaster in St. Louis. In the end, it felt like the Blues were not necessarily adapting to the winds of change in the NHL.
The Blues need to get up to speed, and fast. If not, it might cost Armstrong and Berube their jobs.