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Stanley Cup Final

Berube helped Blues get season back on track, win Stanley Cup

Named coach Nov. 19, led St. Louis out of last place to first championship

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

BOSTON -- Craig Berube turned out to be the right man to coach the St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup.

But general manager Doug Armstrong didn't know that when he asked Berube to take over on an interim basis after firing Mike Yeo on Nov. 19. In fact, Armstrong initially was considering an extensive list of candidates for the job when he promoted Berube from associate coach.

"When we started the process, I just said, 'Craig, we need your help. We need you to come in and stabilize things, and you and I will work together,'" Armstrong said.


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Berube's temp job is certain to become full time after the Blues defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday to capture the first championship in their 51-season history. 

"It's an unbelievable feeling," Berube said. "I'm just proud of our players. They just played so hard and really played for each other. I'm so happy that they're champs."

With Berube having established himself as the sole candidate to coach the Blues, Armstrong said it's simply a matter of figuring out the "economics" of a new contract before his interim tag is removed.  

"Of course, we're going to get him taken care of," Armstrong said.

Video: Blues coach Craig Berube on winning the Stanley Cup

Why wouldn't they after Berube guided them from last in the NHL on Jan. 3 to Cup champions? Since 1967, 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, let alone reached the final.

"That was something else to do that, to be honest with you," Berube said. "To just get in the playoffs was an achievement in itself, but I felt good our guys weren't satisfied with that. I knew that going into the playoffs we could probably do something, make a little bit of noise, and here we are. It happened."

When Berube took over, St. Louis was 7-9-3 and winning the Cup wasn't on their radar.

"You don't think about the Cup in November," Berube said. "You think about getting your team back on track, or we did anyhow, and getting moving in the right direction."

Berube played a big role in that by getting the players to believe they could have success. That sometimes involved some tough love, but the Blues were receptive to his message.

"He gave us a lot of confidence," center Oskar Sundqvist said. "He's a demanding coach, but he's fair. Everyone's playing so hard for him, everyone really wanted to win for him and he did a hell of a job and we made it."

Video: Berube has had a huge impact on the Blues season

The Blues went 38-19-6 under Berube during the regular season before defeating the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks to reach the Cup Final for the first time since 1970. The Bruins were the favorites entering the series, but Berube pushed a lot of the right buttons to help them pull off the upset, particularly after they lost 5-1 in Game 6 at home on Sunday.

Rather than dwell on the missed opportunity, Berube told them to look at the one ahead of them in Game 7.

"What he said was, 'If someone told you five months ago we're in the Stanley Cup Final playing Game 7, no one would have believed that,'" defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. "We would have taken that in a heartbeat. We lost at home, that was tough, but it all boiled down to one game and we got it done."

Berube never achieved his dream of winning the Cup as player, but he came close twice before retiring following 17 seasons in the NHL in 2004. He was with the Philadelphia Flyers but did not play when they lost to the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in the 1987 Cup Final and played in the 1998 Cup Final with the Washington Capitals when they were swept by the Detroit Red Wings.

Coaching opened another door to the Cup. Berube was undeterred after he was fired from his first NHL coaching job with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015 and has made the most of his second opportunity with the Blues.

"You always think that you have another chance, but you never know," Berube said "Sometimes it's unfortunate you don't get to hoist it. I was in the Cup Final a couple times and it didn't happen, but it happened now."

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