Berube looks to make the best of his second chance

Craig Berube

Everybody deserves a second chance, but only if they earn it.

Craig Berube is a perfect example.

After the Flyers let him go as head coach at the end of the 2014-15 season, it would have been easy for Berube to sit back and wait for the phone to ring with another coaching offer.

That, however, is not Berube’s style.

He jumped right back into the work pool, taking on a scouting job for Canada’s 2016 World Cup team.

Berube, who has maintained a residence in Bucks County since his playing days, got a chance to see the game from a different perspective, basically keeping a “book’’ on every player in the NHL.

A year later, he was coaching the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the St. Louis Blues.

He was promoted to associate coach to St. Louis head coach Mike Yeo last season and maintained that position until last week when Yeo was fired.

Berube was named interim coach, a well-deserved appointment.

Some believe Berube got shortchanged in his two-year stay behind the Flyers bench.

He took over for Peter Laviolette at the start of the 2013-14 season after the Flyers got off to a miserable 0-3-0 start and took the team to the playoffs.

The following season, there were injuries, poor goaltending and underachievement by several star players.

After the Flyers missed the postseason, Berube was let go.

Now he’s been given a second chance, sort of. He’s going to have to work to have that interim tag removed.

A lot of it is up to the players.

Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Howe, who has his jersey No. 2 retired and hanging in the Wells Fargo Center rafters, feels there’s a good chance Berube will succeed this time around.

“The biggest thing with ‘Chief’ is, like with any good coach, you have to have a passion for what you’re doing and he definitely has the passion,’’ said Howe, director of scouting for the Detroit Red Wings before Friday’s Flyers-Rangers game.

“He’s always had it. I think he’s somebody that you look at, he kind of reminds of when I played for Paul Holmgren (Flyers coach from 1988-91). He’s been there, he’s been through the wars. If a young player doesn’t have respect for that, I would think he would need his head adjusted.’’

Berube’s overall record with the Flyers was 75-58-28.

“I know when he was coaching the Flyers, his team was structured, it was organized and they always played as a five-man unit,’’ Howe said. “The talent level was just OK when he was coaching here and for the talent he had, I thought he exceeded what my expectations were.’’

Berube takes over a St. Louis which has underachieved for a couple seasons. Through 20 games, the Blues had a record of 7-10-3 and are last in the Central Division.

“In order to be a good coach, you have to get he most out of your players,’’ Howe said.

Left unsaid: Getting the most out of this underachieving Blues crew won’t be easy.

Howe thinks Berube has a good eye for strengths and weaknesses in players, an asset no doubt enhanced by his year of scouting for Canada.

“You always identify what a player’s weaknesses are and what his strengths are,’’ Howe said. “Then you attack the weaknesses.

“I think Chief will do well. I watched St. Louis a few weeks ago. I just think their team was underachieving for their expectations. Mike Yeo is a good coach but sometimes players just quit responding.

“Chief is honest, he will be demanding. He comes right to the point. I would much rather have my coach be like that – let me know what I have to do and if I don’t, get my butt on the bench. Do your job.’’


Hitchcock returns, too

Just when you thought Ken Hitchcock was done coaching for good, back he comes for one more kick at the can, this time in Edmonton. The hiring basically happened in the same 24-hour news cycle as Berube.

Hitchcock was a popular coach in his tenure in Philadelphia and if not for some injuries to key players such Eric Desjardins and Danny Markov, the Flyers might have knocked off the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2004 Eastern Conference finals.

Like the situation in St. Louis, the Oilers were underachieving, hardly understandable with superstar Connor McDavid on the roster.

“It’s not going to change overnight, but we can start taking some steps,” said Hitchcock. “I told the players today I can take them to a place personally that they can’t get to themselves, but they’ve got to buy into that, and it’s not going to be comfortable at times.’’


Around the NHL

How quickly they disappear: The Ottawa hockey rink now known as the Canadian Tire Centre is only 22 years old but they’re already talking about scrapping it for new digs. Thing is, they should never have built the damn thing a half-hour drive from downtown in the first place. The dream was to build luxury condos, a big hotel and a shopping mall but that never happened. One big problem: Rush hour traffic. Good luck with the new plan. . .

The Flyers play at Pittsburgh on Sunday, Dec. 2 but don’t look for Matt Murray in goal for the Penguins. He’s out with a lower-body injury and won’t be back in time for that game. . .

New Jersey 14-year-old hockey player Luke Rogers, a Marlboro, N.J. native who is battling leukemia, will be in attendance for Tuesday night’s home game against the Senators, when the Flyers host their “Hockey Fights Cancer’’ night. Rogers, who recently skated with his boyhood idol, James van Riemsdyk, after a Flyers practice, signed a one-day contract with the Flyers, making him an “unofficial’’ member of the team for the Ottawa game.

Avatar photo
About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.