PHILADELPHIA – While it might look like St. Louis interim head coach Craig Berube is auditioning to make that title permanent, he doesn’t see it that way.
The ex-Flyers head coach, who still maintains his offseason residence in Bucks County, has never been one to look too far ahead.
And that’s a philosophy which could serve him well with the Blues, who right now are trying to right a disappointing season on a day-to-day basis.
Berube began the season as an associate coach and took over for the fired Mike Yeo on Nov. 20 after the Blues got off to a frustrating 7-9-3 start.
Having a long-standing relationship with Blues GM Doug Armstrong probably had something to do with the promotion.
St. Louis ranks right up there with the Flyers for most disappointing team in the NHL this season.
The culprit? Well, there were several but lack of scoring probably tops the list. The Blues entered Monday night’s game against the Flyers with just 110 goals, fewest in the Central Division.
Under Berube, the Blues have played only slightly better, going 9-10-1 over the past six weeks. But they’re still in last place in the division, with just 36 points – same as the Flyers.
Prior to Monday night’s game, Berube explained why he isn’t too concerned with his long-term job status.
“To be honest, I don’t think about it like that,’’ he said. “You just keep going. It’s been great. Doug’s been good to me, giving me the opportunity to get back into coaching with Chicago (Wolves, where Berube coached in the AHL), then wanting me to come up and be an associate coach.
“It’s unfortunate what happened with Mike. But that’s the job, that’s the world we live in.’’
Berube is a household name in Philadelphia. He spent much of his 18-year playing career here, then served as an assistant coach before taking over for Peter Laviolette just after the start of the 2013-14 season.
The Flyers made the playoffs that year but ran into a New York Rangers buzzsaw which was headed for the Stanley Cup Final.
The following year the Flyers missed the postseason and Berube was let go by new GM Ron Hextall.
Some believed that was a premature firing. To his credit, Berube wasn’t bitter. He got right back up on the horse and signed on to scout for Canada’s national team.
Coaching is in his blood, though, and it wasn’t long before he was back behind the bench.
Like Flyers interim coach Scott Gordon, who mentored many of the players currently on the parent roster, Berube is familiar with a number of the Blues’ up-and-coming stars from his work in Chicago.
“It does (give you an advantage),’’ Berube said. “I know a lot of the kids that were down there that are playing for us now.
“They played well for me down there and they’re actually well up here, too.’’
There’s little bitterness when he talks about his head coaching experience with the Flyers.
“No, I got an opportunity here and it didn’t work out like I wanted it to,’’ he said. “So you move on. To be bitter about anything, that wouldn’t help.’’
Berube is trying to institute a more attack-oriented game plan for the Blues. There certainly is scoring ability on the roster, with ex-Flyer Brayden Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Perron.
“I think we’re just trying to establish a more aggressive mindset here,’’ he said. “And playing a faster game. I thought we were slow (under Yeo).
“I think the game is about attacking and what you’re doing with the puck. If you don’t score goals in the game now, you have a tough time winning.’’
No doubt the Blues should be in a contending position and everyone is feeling the disappointment. Last year St. Louis amassed 94 points and missed the postseason by one point.
This year there were high hopes.
“It’s disappointing, it’s frustrating for everyone in the organization. . .the players, too,’’ Berube said. “A lot of guys who were counted on to have real good years, so it’s an everyday thing where everyone is looking at their stats and not liking it.’’
However it turns out, Berube is not going to lose much sleep over this drama. It’s just not his way.
“Like I said, I don’t really think about it,’’ he said. “I kind of go day-to-day with my job. Just trying to get the team better and get some wins.’’