In 52 seasons of St. Louis Blues hockey, there have been twenty-six coaches. It took until the 26th coach for the club to reach the ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup. The coaching history for the Blues is one of the more interesting ones in the history of the NHL.
This franchise has 180 playoff wins, yet just one Stanley Cup. Many coaches have tried and failed, many coaches have had multiple years with success, but came up just short in the end.
Here are the five best coaches in franchise history.
5) Brian Sutter (153-124-43)
Brian Sutter spent four seasons as the head coach of the Blues, four of the more interesting seasons in team history. He was brought in for the job in the 1988-89 season, when he was 32 years old.
His first season saw the team finish 33-35-12 and second in the Norris Division. In the playoffs, the Blues lost in the second round in five games to the Chicago Blackhawks. They would go on to lose in the second round in the next two years after this as well.
I think that Blues fans expected more, as Sutter was a fan favorite as a player and when he got the opportunity to coach the team he played for, they thought he could get them to the promised land.
Expectations had to be high as Sutter was the coach when Brett Hull was scoring goals at a ridiculous rate – there were 67 goals per season on average for Hull in the four seasons with Sutter behind the bench.
It didn’t help that during Sutter’s time as head coach, he had to deal with the drama with Scott Stevens, and the Adam Oates trade. The Oates trade went down in 1992, which hurt that team and eventually led to the downfall of Sutter as the head coach.
It was four seasons, four playoff appearances, then out the door for Sutter as he was let go after the 1991-92 season saw a first-round exit at the hands of the Blackhawks. Sutter ranks third all-time in Blues history in wins and fourth in playoff wins.
4) Ken Hitchcock (248-124-41)
Ken Hitchcock in St. Louis was a very interesting time in Blues hockey. He became the head coach in 2012, replacing Davis Payne, who spent less than three seasons with the Blues and missed the playoffs every single year.
Hitchcock began his tenure in November 2012, and coached the team to a 43-15-11 record after a 6-7-0 start under Payne. So, Hitchcock got the Blues into the playoffs after taking over in the second month of the season. St. Louis ended up losing in the second round to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings.
Hitchcock took home the Jack Adams Award after the 2011-12 season. As a result, the Blues were seen a potential team on the rise after Year 1 under Hitchcock. Year 2 saw the team get 60 points in the regular season – due to the lockout, they only played 48 games. They again lost to the Kings, in Round 1 this time.
In Year 3 of Hitchcock, the team won 52 games and had 111 points, good for the fourth-most in the NHL. They failed in the playoffs, once again, getting bounced in the first round by the Blackhawks.
Overall, in Hitchcock’s time as Blues coach, the team made the postseason five times and had four straight seasons of 100-plus points. It was seen as a disappointment overall, as so many good regular seasons led to early postseason exits.
The 2015-16 season was the most successful one under “Hitch” – the Blues made a run to the Western Conference Final where they came up just short against the San Jose Sharks. In the 2016-17 season, Hitchcock was let go by the Blues after 50 games at 24-21-5, Mike Yeo stepped in after that.
The way it ended in St. Louis for Hitchcock was weird – he ended up with 248 wins and many successful regular seasons, but a 20-27 mark in the postseason just wasn’t good enough.
3) Scotty Bowman (110-83-45)
Scotty Bowman began his legendary coaching career with the St. Louis Blues. In one of the most infamous starts to a franchise in NHL history, the Blues made it to the Stanley Cup in Bowman’s first three seasons but were swept all three times.
While it took less to reach the Cup Final back in 1968 compared to now, Bowman’s early success with the Blues was a sign of what he would become.
Bowman only coached four seasons for the Blues and it all came to an end due to a “rift” with the son of the team owner at the time. Bowman would then go on to win 1134 more games and nine Stanley Cups.
Bowman’s time in St. Louis is obviously remembered for the 0-12 record in the Stanley Cup Final, but we should also note his .557 win percentage and him being fifth all-time in wins for the franchise in only 238 games.
2) Craig Berube (67-29-13)
Craig Berube’s first full season with the St. Louis Blues is going on right now. In just 135 total games, Berube’s impact on the history of the franchise is unmatched. He’s the only coach of the Blues to ever win the Stanley Cup.
Berube took over in November 2018 after Mike Yeo was fired. Berube took a Blues team that was severely underperforming with a 15-18-4 record and went 38-19-6. The team made the playoffs and the rest is history.
Berube came in and instantly changed the team’s style, adopting a high IQ, physical style that suited the team and helped turn their dreadful season around. He helped take a franchise known for falling apart in the playoffs to a Stanley Cup championship.
In the 2019-20 season, it has been mostly the same under Berube. The team is 30-11-8 and off to a great start with 68 points, near the top of the entire league.
Berube is 11th all-time in Blues coaching wins, just five behind Bob Berry. Berube could get as high as eighth all-time for Blues coaching wins, as he sits seven behind Mike Keenan in the eighth spot. He has done all of this in just 112 games – it is remarkable.
1) Joel Quenneville (307-191-95)
Before winning three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, Joel Quenneville was the head man for the Blues. He spent the first eight seasons of his NHL coaching career in St. Louis.
He’s the all-time leader in wins for the franchise at 307 – he has 59 more than Ken Hitchcock, who is second. Quenneville took over in 1996-97 and led the Blues to an 18-15-7 record and took them to the playoffs. They did fall short in Round 1 to the Detroit Red Wings.
Quenneville is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the NHL, yet failed to win the Stanley Cup with the Blues. The Quenneville era in St. Louis saw the team make the playoffs in seven of eight seasons and win a Presidents’ Trophy with a 51-19-12 record in 1999-00.
Quenneville’s teams in St. Louis had three first-round exits, two second-round exits, and one Conference Final loss in 2001. He was 34-34 in playoff games for the Blues before being fired by the team in the 2003-04 season.
Finally, the years of Quenneville with the Blues will be known for great regular-season success, some playoff success, but no Stanley Cup. His 307-win mark is pretty safe for now, but Berube is collecting wins at a rapid pace for the Blues. He could reach it someday.