Random thoughts: Big changes and drama for the Blues, Alex Ovechkin can't score and more
Checking in on the big stories around the NHL this week.
Happy Saturday. Let’s just jump right into this.
The St. Louis Blues had a week.
What is wrong with Alex Ovechkin?
And more random thoughts on the latest NHL happenings
1. The St. Louis Blues had a week
The St. Louis Blues made a coaching change this week, firing Craig Berube and replacing him with Drew Bannister on an interim basis.
This decision comes after the Blues missed the playoffs a year ago and got off to another slow start through the first quarter of the 2023-24 season. The decision itself isn’t really that shocking. Berube had been in St. Louis for a while, the Blues have struggled, the general manager probably wanted to do something to shake things up and buy himself some time, and all of that is the perfect storm for a coaching change.
What followed was a few days of chaos and drama that was enough to make you ask if St. Louis is okay?
First, general manager Doug Armstrong was extremely hard on himself and delivered a completely wild quote saying, “If I get fired in the next hour, or I get hit by a bus in the next hour, I don’t feel today I’ve left it any better than where I found it. That’s an awful feeling.”
First, I do give Armstrong some credit here for at least acknowledging the fact the current team he has built is not very good. Especially when it comes to the defense. The Blues defense has been a major problem for a couple of years now and he has done almost nothing to address it, while also being saddled with Jordan Binnington’s contract (that he gave out). I have always been of the belief that if a GM is firing his coach, he should also be taking a long look in the mirror at himself and the team he has built.
But just because the current team is painfully average does not mean he has left the Blues in a bad spot. When he was hired in July of 2010 the Blues had missed the playoffs in five of the previous six seasons, had not won a playoff series in seven years, and were mostly an afterthought in the NHL. During his time they have made the playoffs more often than not, played in two Western Conference Finals and on yeah also won a Stanley Cup. They had no Stanley Cups when he arrived. By that measure alone he has left the organization in an objectively better place than when he found it.
Give yourself some credit, man. Throw yourself under the bus for the past two or three years. But don’t throw your entire tenure away.
Things really escalated later in the week when Blues forward Jordan Kyrou — one of the team’s best players and highest paid players — was asked about his relationship with Berube. He gave one of the coldest answers you could imagine, saying “I have no comment. He’s not my coach anymore.”
This was not well received by Blues fans have treated Berube like a legend because he brought the city its first Championship. Add in the fact that Kyrou is having a disappointing season, among many disappointments on the Blues, and he ended up getting loudly booed during the next home game. He was booed during pre-game introductions. He was booed when he touched the puck during the game. After the game Kyrou was literally brought to tears talking about the crowd reaction.
I have some complicated thoughts on this.
For one, we always get on players giving boring, cliche answers and not being honest. Then when they do give an honest, emotional response, they get booed and shit on for it. It’s no wonder nobody likes talking.
I also get where Blues fans are coming from. Berube is a beloved figure in St. Louis hockey, Kyrou is seen as a disappointment this season, and that answer could be perceived as some sort of a personal shot or an indication that the relationship was bad. Fans are always going to gravitate toward the guy with the ring over the guy that is viewed as the flop.
But — and this is a big but — nobody actually knows why Kyrou gave that answer. Maybe their relationship was bad. Maybe Berube treated him like shit. I don’t know. You don’t know. Blues fans don’t know. We have learned enough shitty things about the inner-workings of hockey teams over the years that it is probably never best to jump to conclusions on these things.
The most likely and logical explanation is that Kyrou is frustrated by the season, didn’t want to talk, and just gave an honest “I don’t give a fuck” answer.
Either way, I am not going to crush him for it. Everybody in St. Louis is frustrated, and for good reason.