ST. LOUIS — The Blues will be casting a wide net in their coaching search.
General manager Doug Armstrong fired Mike Yeo after Monday’s 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Craig Berube is the interim coach while Armstrong assembles a list of candidates for the permanent job.
“There’s going to be experienced head coaches on that list,” he said at a news conference Tuesday. “There’s going to be European head coaches on that list. College head coaches on that list. Junior head coaches. We’re not going to minimize or limit the scope that we’re going to look at.”
Armstrong also did not rule out former St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville, who was fired recently by Chicago. He added that’s unlikely a permanent coach will be hired this season.
“It’s possible. I’m not sure it’s probable,” Armstrong said. “It’s not something that we’re going to give updates on. This hockey team’s job is to win games and it’s my job to support this team.”
Related: Mike Yeo is Gone, Now What?
To that end, Hall of Famer Larry Robinson will assist Berube for three weeks to a month because of the inexperienced assistants. The 67-year-old Robinson won a Stanley Cup while coaching the New Jersey Devils.
“I think having Larry come in to give Craig someone to talk to who’s been there, done that is good for him,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong fired Yeo about two hours after the team’s third shutout loss in four games. It was their fourth loss in five games. The scoreless streak is more than seven periods.
At 7-9-3, the Blues are last in the Central Division. Their 17 points rank next to last in the NHL, ahead of only Los Angeles.
“The talk I had with him last night was that we had to make a change,” Armstrong said. “I plan to get back to Mike later and thank him and reassure him that he’s paying for the sins of myself and the entire organization. It’s very unfortunate.”
The Blues fell one point short of making the playoffs last season and entered this season with hopes of a deep playoff run. They acquired centre Ryan O’Reilly in a trade from Buffalo. Armstrong also signed forwards Tyler Bozak, Patrick Maroon and David Perron.
“Ultimately, it comes back to our record,” Armstrong said. “When he came in, he was able to jell the team and we went on a nice run. We won a playoff round. We had a good feeling about ourselves. That carried over to the next 25 games of the season. Then we hit a rut in December and quite honestly we haven’t gotten out of it.”
Berube, a 52-year-old former player, joined the Blues in June 2017. He coached the team’s then-AHL affiliate — the Chicago Wolves — to a 44-19-13 record and a division title during the 2016-17 season.
Berube is a midseason replacement for the second time, having succeeded Peter Laviolette with the Flyers three games into the 2013-14 season. In two seasons there, he had a 75-58-28 regular-season record. The Flyers made the playoffs during the 2013-14 season but lost in the first round.
“Mike’s a good friend of mine,” Berube said. “I loved working with him and coaching with him. We’ve got to move forward and get better. That’s the plan. We’ve definitely got to instil some confidence back in this hockey team. It’s a good hockey team. We’ve got good players.”
While offering no definite plans, Berube has some ideas on how to get the team playing better.
“I don’t think it’s anything massive. I think it’s tweaks here and there,” Berube said. “We’re going to demand … and that starts in practice. I’m demanding but I’m fair.”
Yeo joined the Blues after five seasons with Minnesota. The Wild made the playoffs in three of Yeo’s four full seasons. He was fired 55 games into 2015-16.
He was to have replaced Ken Hitchcock following the 2016-17 season, but Armstrong fired Hitchcock. On Tuesday, Hitchcock was appointed coach the Edmonton Oilers after the firing of Todd McLellan, the fourth NHL coaching dismissal this season.
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Warren Mayes, The Associated Press