There was never a reason to worry about Craig Berube and the Blues continuing their relationship with a contract extension for the only coach to win a Stanley Cup in franchise history. This was going to happen, 100 percent.

The Blues made it official Wednesday by announcing a three-year deal that will last through the 2024-2025 campaign. Berube’s contract was set to expire after this season, and the team and the coach took their time to make a deal. But there was never any tension, or potential problems or a risk of breaking up.

In terms of pace, this played out in a similar way to the first Berube contract as Blues head coach. If you remember, Blues GM Doug Armstrong and Berube were in no rush to remove the interim-coach designation before and immediately after the epic 2019 charge to the Stanley Cup.

We should have learned from that to ease concerns over the slow timeline that led to this new deal. Armstrong and Berube have a great relationship, personally and professionally. They’re secure in their partnership, and don’t have to speed through negotiations. There was no rush, no pressure.

Though the process may have taken longer than many expected, it didn’t really matter. Nervous fans and media needed to take a deep breath and understand that the silence was a positive sign – and the exact opposite of cause for alarm.

Armstrong and Berube go about things at their own pace and do a good job of blocking out the noise. The loyalty is obvious. Armstrong revived Berube’s coaching career after the Chief was fired – unfairly – as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. Armstrong made Berube coach of the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Chicago, then promoted him to St. Louis as an assistant to Mike Yeo. When Yeo was sacked on Nov. 18, 2018 Berube took over … and you know the rest.

Armstrong and Berube are a winning team with a deep history. With their relationship on solid ground, Armstrong and Berube had no reason to fret over some irrelevant clock. Their calmness about a contract extension served to reaffirm the confidence and trust that they have in each other.

“We talked prior to Christmas,” Armstrong said Thursday in a video conference with the media. “There was really no feeling that we were concerned we weren’t going to get something done. We talked on and off and we thought the All-Star break was the proper time to see if we could get it finished, and we were able to do that.”

Armstrong added: “We like our team this year, we like where it’s heading and I think we have the perfect coach for this group.”

Berube, 56, has the second-best points percentage (.632) by a coach in Blues history, behind Ken Hitchcock (.650.) Berube is fourth in most regular-season wins (133), with Joel Quenneville (307), Hitchcock (248) and Brian Sutter (153) ahead of him.

Since replacing Yeo, Berube ranks sixth in winning percentage among current NHL coaches that have coached in at least 200 games since the Blues made the change. The coaches above Berube are Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper (.711), Boston’s Bruce Cassidy (.665), Colorado’s Jerad Bednar (.659), Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour (.650) and Pittsburgh’s Mike Sullivan (.644.)

This was more than a contract extension. Berube’s deal represents a continuation of the enduring and excellent leadership of franchise chairman Tom Stillman, Armstrong and Berube. Wednesday, when guesting on my KFNS radio show, longtime Blues TV voice John Kelly of Bally Sports Midwest offered a strong perspective: this is the most stable owner-GM-coach combination in franchise history. And he’s right.

Since the start of the 2012-2013 season – Stillman’s first – the Blues rank fifth in the NHL in wins, points and winning percentage. Only four teams have competed in more postseason games, and only six have won more postseason games.

There was no reason — none — to even think about going in a different direction. All sides are too smart to do something stupid. They understand that they have a good thing going … a really good thing going. It’s refreshing when sports people value what they have instead of spoiling a healthy situation with inflated egos.

“I came in here four years ago and we’ve had great success here,” Berube told the Blues web site.  “We have a chance to win again. I think that Doug does everything he can to put a winning team on the ice, and as a coach, I think that’s a great thing. I really enjoy St. Louis. I enjoy the fan base, and it’s a great organization.”

Berube is respected by his players for his straightforward honesty. He’s demanding but in a genuine way. He doesn’t put on shows to draw attention to himself. He doesn’t play mind games with his players. He lets them know what he wants, and expects them to follow through. He has a superb feel for his locker room, is always in touch with the team mood, and has demonstrated an almost uncanny ability to piece together a myriad of effective line combinations.

Berube’s Blues have been consistently strong at five-on-five – even if they need to get better in that area this season. But one trait stands out: in Berube’s 234 games behind the bench, the Blues rank 4th in the NHL in five-on-five goals allowed per 60 minutes (2.19.)

This season the Blues are the only team in the NHL that have a unique combination of success indicators, ranking among the league’s top seven in goals per game, goals–against per game, power-play success rate, penalty-kill success rate, and save percentage.

Berube is in a special class of professional coach/manager leaders in modern St. Louis sports history. He’s on a short list of coaches and managers to win the championship in one of the major sports since 1967:

Red Schoendienst, Cardinals, 1967
Whitey Herzog, Cardinals, 1982
Dick Vermeil, Rams, 1999.
Tony La Russa, Cardinals, 2006 and 2011
Berube, Blues, 2019

That’s a very special group. And Berube most definitely belongs, having pulled off a minor miracle by coaching the Blues to a Stanley Cup – something that Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Quenneville and Hitchcock couldn’t get done.

With a new deal for Berube, the Blues will go forward with a positive era of success and stability. The team’s ownership-GM-coaching leadership is great for the Blues, and wonderful for the fans.

The timing of the Berube extension is perfect.

The Blues are gearing up for a vigorous push to the end of the regular-season schedule, and this is a good time to reaffirm their commitment to Berube. He isn’t going anywhere, and Blues players have more of a reason to follow their leader.

The Blues, off since Jan. 29, return to action against New Jersey tonight at Enterprise Center. At 26-13-5 the Blues rank 9th overall and 3rd in the Western Conference with a .648 points percentage. According to MoneyPuck, the Blues go into Thursday’s game with a 89.4% probability of making the playoffs.

They have 38 games remaining – 30 of which will be crammed into March and April.

It’s essential for the goaltending to hold up and stay strong.

The defense must tighten up.

For all of the things the Blues do well, they need to improve. Their most glaring vulnerability going forward is the volume of high-danger shots getting launched against their goaltenders. I forgot to mention this in an earlier batch of Blue Notes this week.

Through their first 44 games the Blues rank 30th among the 32 NHL teams by allowing an average of 12.47 high-danger shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five. But their goaltenders – primarily Ville Husso – have limited the damage by ranking second in the league in high-danger save percentage at five-on-five (.861) and first in high-danger save percentage (.849) in all situations.

Because the Blues give up so many quality, close-range shots, their goals-allowed average per 60 minutes at five-on-five (2.8) ranks 31st among the 32 teams.

If you want something to worry about, there ya go.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen by streaming online or by downloading the “Bernie Show” podcast at — the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.

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Stats used in this column were cultivated from Natural Stat Trick, Hockey Reference and Money Puck.