ST. LOUIS - Blues general manager Doug Armstrong put the finishing touches on his team's coaching staff Thursday by hiring Craig Berube as associate coach, Daniel Tkaczuk as an assistant / skills coach and David Alexander as the team's goalie coach.
Earlier this offseason, Darryl Sydor and Steve Ott were hired as assistant coaches on Mike Yeo's staff.
"It's a young staff," Armstrong said in an exclusive interview with stlouisblues.com. "I gave Mike (Yeo) the final say as he has to work with these guys every day, but you try to look where Mike has some vacancies on his resume. Having guys that played the game for a number of years, a guy like Ott, a guy like Sydor, a guy like Berube, it's really good for Mike to have that.
"We all think we know what players are going through, but until you've walked in their shoes, you really don't know," Armstrong added. "Having those experiences are really good. Just the communication skills with today's players, I think it's very important. Maybe a decade ago, it was 'tell me what to do and I'll do it.' Now (the players) want to know why. You have to have great communication skills and I think this group has that."
Video: Armstrong on recent coaching hires
Berube joins the Blues after spending last season as the head coach of the team's AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. Berube led the Wolves to a 44-19-13 record (101 points), which was the club's best mark since the 2009-10 season. The Wolves also finished first in the Central Division and reached the second round of the 2017 Calder Cup playoffs.
Berube has spent 14 years as a coach overall, including two seasons as a head coach with the Philadelphia Flyers in which he went 75-58-28 from 2013-15. Berube also spent seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Flyers, as well as serving as the head coach with the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms from 2006-08.
As a player, Berube played in 1,054 regular season games in the NHL, posting 61 goals and 98 assists (159 points) over a 17-year career that included stints with the Flyers, Maple Leafs, Flames, Capitals and Islanders. He is one of three players in NHL history to have appeared in over 1,000 regular season games and served over 3,000 penalty minutes.
"(Craig) is a great guy to communicate with, and you really know where you stand (with him)," Armstrong said. "The players really enjoyed that with him in Chicago. Having the opportunity to talk to some guys in the Flyers organization who played there or worked with Craig, he's very consistent in his approach and I think the players like that. He understands right from wrong, he has values that are non-negotiable. He has expectations that he expects his players to (live up to)."
Tkaczuk spent last season working with Berube as an assistant with the Chicago Wolves. Prior to his stint with the Wolves, he spent four seasons coaching in the Ontario Hockey League with Kitchener and Owen Sound. Tkaczuk played 12 seasons of professional hockey, including stints in the AHL, Finland, Italy, Germany and England. He also played 19 games with the Calgary Flames in 2000-01.
"Tkaczuk was great for us as young players," said Blues forward Ivan Barbashev. "He shared his experience and taught us a lot about what it means to be a pro."
"Daniel is very dedicated to the skill portion of the game," Armstrong said. "He travels the world doing seminars, (both) one-on-one and group things. He made a great presentation to Mike and I about the drills he did with the players. He tries to incorporate why they're doing it and how it's going to help their game."
Alexander has spent the last four seasons in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization, working as the goalie coach for the AHL's Syracuse Crunch. Last season, the Crunch won the Eastern Conference title but eventually lost in the Calder Cup Finals. Alexander works with Blues goalie Jake Allen in the offseason and has also worked with Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and Hurricanes goalie Scott Darling.
"He's a younger coach but current with today's players and we think he's going to be really good for this organization," said Armstrong. "Not just Jake, but (Carter) Hutton and (Ville) Husso and the whole group."