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Craig Berube Couldn’t Adjust To Modern Day NHL; Not Great Fit For Expansion Franchise

The latest rumored coaches surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights are well known names around the NHL. The Hockey News reported Former Flyers coach Craig Berube and Canadiens associate coach Kirk Muller are considered Vegas candidates. The other name being whispered around is former Panthers coach Gerard Gallant. None of these names should surprise you and there’s a good chance one of them could be on the Golden Knights bench next October.

Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch reported George McPhee created a list of potential coaching candidates. Apparently, Berube and Muller are on that list. Other rumored possibilities are Kevin Dineen, Paul McLean, Davis Payne and Gallant. Most names being rumored are offensive style coaches. Berube however, was a coach that struggled to get offense from Philadelphia, which is why I believe hiring him would be the wrong move for the Golden Knights.

Berube took over the Flyers bench in 2013, three games into the season. He led Philadelphia to the playoffs, but the Flyers were dispatched in seven games by the Rangers  The following season the Flyers finished with 84 points, 14 shy of a playoff berth. He was let go shorty after that second season.

Critics argued he couldn’t get enough offense out of his team, wore down his goalie, and didn’t adjust to today’s NHL. To me, those are red-flags you just can’t look past when considering the inaugural coach for the Golden Knights.

NHL players today are much different from the league Berube played in. He was the type of player that gave his body up every night for his team. However, a nightly discussion happening in all locker rooms is work-to-rest ratio. Something Berube could never get his head around. The Flyers were worn out late in the season, losing 15 out of their last 22 games in ’14-’15. Berube’s team went from clear in late February to missing the playoffs by a wide margin.

Work-to-rest is a relatively new concept NHL teams have adopted from other sports. Trainers believe resting periods are just as important as practice throughout a lengthy 82 game season. Teams strive to take better care of their players in anticipation for an extensive run. Berube didn’t prepare his team for the bigger picture and they faded majorly down the stretch.

Another slam on Berube’s coaching tenure was his horrendous record in shootouts. During his two season tenure, the Flyers went 6-19 in shootout. Love it or hate it, shootouts are a big part of the NHL regular season. Apparently another part of the game Berube couldn’t adjust to.

If you put too much pressure on these guys in the shootout they’re not going to perform anyhow. Basically it comes down to a mental thing. Claude Giroux is one of the guys who was so reliable in the shootout years ago. He could go down and he always made a nice move, a nice play, and scored. And this year it got to him mentally that every time he went down, he kind of just wanted to get it over with it seemed like. He lost his confidence. It’s a confidence thing. Shootouts are a skill. It’s nothing more than a skill and I think that we didn’t have enough guys that could perform in that area. -Craig Berube

It’s clear Berube doesn’t care for the shootout and didn’t pay enough attention to it. If he realized his best player lost his confidence, then why put him out there? Why not focus some time in practice? Why not bring up a younger player specifically for shootout impact? In today’s NHL, a team cannot go into the extra frame knowing they won’t win in a shootout.

Of course, many coaches learn from past results, and Berube could be one of them. But when the constant knock on a guy is his inability to adjust, I highly doubt learning from mistakes is a strong suit. If Berube continues to coach like he played, it’ll be tough for his teams to succeed.

His name might be on McPhee’s list, but for our sake let’s hope it’s written in pencil.


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  1. James

    @Jason Pothier
    I must admit I didn’t know much about Craig Berube, I thought Berube was just this former tough guy who grinded his way through the ranks to become an NHL head coach. I was surprised to come across this article about Berube employing hockey analytics. Being a baseball stat guy, I think you should take a second look.

    I think the ability to develop young players is a must.

  2. Jason Pothier

    @James that’s an interesting article. I do like his stress on zone entries. I just worry that may be his only understanding of useful stats. Berube is a max effort coach, who gave it all so he expects it all. That’s not the case anymore, players are different. They need to be babied, taken care of. Plus he completely messed with Steve Mason. Overall I think Vegas could find a much better coach.

  3. RJ

    I’m going to be pretty easy to please with whomever our coach hire is. I hope they don’t go with Gallant, Dineen, Mueller, Payne or Berube, five head coaches with only four playoff births between them and no series wins, but I’ll totally understand and support it if they do. It is hard to shy away from a ‘safe’ choice like one of these guys since they have experience, are the ‘right’ age, and have acceptable resumes. If they do great, McPhee looks great, if they fail then well McPhee isn’t to blame since all these guys failed before. I wouldn’t love it, but I’d be fine with one of these guys.

    I’d much rather roll the dice on a younger assistant or Junior league coach. Give a sub 40 year old a chance to make something new and different in Las Vegas.

    I’ll give McPhee the benefit of the doubt no matter who he chooses, but I’ll be a lot more excited with a fresh faced head coach.

    • James

      ‘I hope they don’t go with Gallant, Dineen, Mueller, Payne or Berube, five head coaches with only four playoff births between them and no series wins, but I’ll totally understand and support it if they do.’

      The original article also mentions Ottawa Senators assistant Marc Crawford. Does Crawford’s 1996 Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup ring do anything for you… or is he too far removed?

      • RJ

        That could be interesting, but I wonder if having a guy with his history (Bertuzzi incident) would be a great fit for introducing new fans to hockey. I’d love to have the coach but I don’t think we want the baggage associated with our club. In Ottawa where he is now that’s just old time Hockey to the fans, but it is also the reason a lot of parents are hesitant to introduce their children to hockey. Having Crawford as coach would literally lose us fans, even if we do win a few more games.

        I’d rather have a fresh, media friendly HC with new ideas (and no issues to apologize for). Las Vegas is an opportunity to do something new and I want to see McPhee take a chance.

  4. James

    @Jason Pothier
    I agree about the morning skate. Fatigue Science have been providing sleep and fatigue technology and services to the Vancouver Canucks. The Golden Knights travel schedule is going to be grueling. West Coast teams are at a disadvantage.

  5. James

    For today’s NHL coach the shelf life seems to be about 3 -4 years. Ken Hitchcock has the best CV amongst available coaches. Could be worth kicking the tires on. It appears that he wants to continue coaching, but an expansion team could be a no-go area. Hitch isn’t getting any younger!

    Lindy Ruff could be back on the hot seat. A friend of Bill Foley.

    • RJ

      Hitch and Ruff are in an entirely different league than the other guys on that list above. If we can get one of them we probably should just do it and not look back.

      Honestly my biggest concern with Ruff is that his relationship with the media has always been tenuous at best and in a new Hockey market, hell a new sports market, Las Vegas reporters may not understand Ruff’s frankness might not always be appreciated.

      Hitch has a better history with the media, and he even has a ton of history of success in non-traditional hockey cities. I’d love to see Hitch as the Las Vegas Hockey Club Coach.

  6. B Johnston

    I hope they have a look at Ralph Krueger as the coach.

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