Monday, November 19, 2018

Blues fire Yeo after shutout loss to last-place Kings

Coming into 2018-19 with high expectations, 
Blues are 30th in NHL with 17 points

ST. LOUIS -- The Blues hit rock bottom on Monday, at least it felt like it, and 19 games in, management and ownership finally felt the need to make a change, and after a disheartening 2-0 loss to the cellar-dwelling Los Angeles Kings, Mike Yeo was fired as head coach. He was replaced in an interim basis by associate coach Craig Berube.

Nobody from the organization was available for comment Monday night. General manager Doug Armstrong will address the media at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the St. Louis Mills.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues fired coach Mike Yeo (standing, right) after parts of three seasons
with the organization on Monday after a 2-0 loss to Los Angeles.

After an offseason that saw Armstrong stockpile the Blues roster with free agent signees Tyler Bozak, David Perron, Pat Maroon and Chad Johnson, along with trading three forwards and two draft picks to acquire center Ryan O'Reilly, making the Blues a cap ceiling team, the team's 7-9-3 start, being in 30th place in the NHL overall through Nov. 19 and a payroll of $79 million was nowhere near what the franchise had in mind.

On June 13, 2016, Yeo was named as the eventual successor to Ken Hitchcock and served as associate coach for the 2016-17 season and was to assume the head coaching position beginning in 2017-18.

Yeo signed a four-year contract and was in the third of the four-year contract; he has this year and next year remaining on it.

Yeo, 45, was 73-49-11 as Blues coach after he replaced Hitchcock on Feb. 1, 2017, when Hitchcock was fired. The Blues went 44-32-6 last season and failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in seven seasons.

It's the second NHL head coaching job Yeo has been fired from. He was relieved of his duties as coach of the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 13, 2016.

"Heck, my job should be in question right now," Yeo said after a 7-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Oct. 25. "That comes with the trade, but I'm not going to coach to save my job. I'm going to coach to try and win a Stanley Cup. I believe in this group, so whatever we need, every single day, I'm going to try and do that. If I believe that that's the right thing, then I'm going to try and do that. But I really think that what we need right now is ... there's been lots of trying to give them heck, trying to motivate in different ways, but whatever the case is, right now what we need to do is come together."

But the Blues were shut out for the third time in four games and have been blanked in back-to-back games and have a shutout drought of 142 minutes 48 seconds.

"We've just got to find a way," Yeo said after the loss before he was fired. "That's what we've got to do. It's frustrating. It's maddening because we can't seem to put it all together at the same time right now. We do the odd game now and in the beginning of the year, we were scoring goals. The defensive game wasn't there and we've cleaned up the defensive game and now we're not scoring goals. Now we've got to put it all together."

Yeo will never get the chance to help put it together and now, at least for the time being, the job belongs to Berube.

Berube, 52, first joined the Blues as associate coach on June 15, 2017. Prior to joining the Blues, he spent one season as the coach of the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves in 2016-17, leading the Wolves to a 44-19-13 regular-season record and a first-place finish in the Central Division. Berube also guided the Wolves to the second round of the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs.

It will be Berube's second NHL job. He spent 11 seasons in different coaching roles in the Philadelphia Flyers organization, including that of the head coach in parts of two seasons from 2013-15 and went 75-58-28.

Before that, Berube spent six years as an assistant coach, helping the Flyers reach the postseason five times, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2009-10. Berube also spent four seasons with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms, including parts of two campaigns as head coach.

As a player, Berube played in 17 seasons with Philadelphia, Toronto, Calgary, Washington, and the New York Islanders.

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