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Blues face challenges trying to win Cup again next season, coach says

Berube aware of obstacles as St. Louis tries to repeat as champion

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup championship two weeks ago, but coach Craig Berube already is looking ahead to the difficulties involved in winning again next season.

Berube, who signed a three-year contract Tuesday, understands the summer will be short and getting the players ready to defend their championship won't be easy.

"I think it's a challenge every year coming into a new season, but it'll be a little bit of a tougher challenge [next] year [after] winning the Cup," Berube said Wednesday. "Obviously your season's a lot longer this year. Training is a little bit tougher. Coming into camp's going to be important, having that push and being ready to go Oct. 2, it comes quick, but it will be a challenge for sure."

 

[RELATED: Berube signs three-year contract to remain Blues coach]

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins won back-to-back championships in 2016 and 2017, the first since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.

Of course, the Blues did go from last place in the NHL standings Jan. 2 to defeating the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup so they know a thing or two about overcoming obstacles.

"I think that it's important that it's a day-to-day basis," Berube said. "That's how we have to look at the season. We're going to have to do the same thing this year right from training camp and throughout the season. You win a game, lose a game, you've got to fix whatever you've got to fix, but you've got to move on from it and focus on the next game. That's really important to do. That's got to be our mindset going forward too. I know it was this year, but it's got to be next year again."

Berube, a finalist for the Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year, went 38-19-6 in 63 games after taking over for Mike Yeo, who was fired Nov. 19, including 30-10-5 from Jan. 3 to the end of the regular season.

"Obviously what Craig did coming in last year and the way the season ended was spectacular for our city, for our organization and he's earned every right to be the head coach here moving forward," general manager Doug Armstrong said. "And as Craig and I talked about, I hope the next three are just three of many. He's done a great job here. I know some of our players over the last few days, they were excited to know that he's coming back and they're excited to get back to work here."

Video: Craig Berube signs a three-year extension with Blues

Since the Blues entered the NHL in 1967-68, no other team in any of the four major North American sports leagues had won a championship after being in last place after one quarter or more of the season.

"Well, it takes time. It always does," Berube said of the Blues' turnaround. "You've got to push it and prod and do all kinds of things to get everybody on the same page and to buy in. It takes a little time.

"They did a great job, our players. They wanted to be a good team and that obviously happened, and they became a good team. That's to their credit. That's not an easy thing to win a Stanley Cup, I'll tell you that. It's a tough road, and again, you've got to have a real good team. You can have good players and you might not win. You've got to have a good team, and we had a good team this year."

Berube, who also coached the Philadelphia Flyers for two seasons from 2013-15, is 113-77-34 in 224 regular-season games and 19-14 in 33 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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