By Rob Rains
Yeo was fired about an hour after the Blues lost 2-0 to the last-place Los Angeles Kings at Enterprise Center. The team announced the move in a press release emailed to the media after Yeo completed his post-game session with reporters.
The Blues fell to 7-9-3 with the loss. It was the second game in a row they were shut out and the third time in their last four games.
Assistant Craig Berube was named the interim coach. He and general manager Doug Armstrong will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
After missing the playoffs by one point last season, the Blues went out and made several moves over the summer which they thought would improve the team, including trading for Ryan O’Reilly and signing David Perron, Pat Maroon and Tyler Bozek as free agents.
O’Reilly has played well but the overall team has struggled and it appeared the Blues were in need of some sort of shakeup.
The move comes before the Blues begin a stretch which will see them play Nashville twice and Winnipeg in a span of four days, all key games against Central Division opponents.
Yeo had coached the Blues since Feb. 1, 2017, when he replaced the fired Ken Hitchcock. He had joined the team as an assistant coach at the start of the 2016-17 season and had been expected to replace Hitchcock, who had announced that he would retire at the end of the season.
Berube, 52, previously coached the Philadelphia Flyers. He also coached the Blues’ affiliate in the American Hockey League and was named an assistant to Yeo prior to the 2017-18 season.
Little has gone the way the Blues expected this season, including the loss to the Kings, who came into Monday night’s game with a league-low six wins and were starting a rookie goalie.
Still, the Blues could not find a way to score, which left Yeo frustrated when he met with the media after the game – before he was told of the coaching change.
“It’s frustrating; it’s maddening because we can’t seem to put it all together at the same time right now,” Yeo said. “We do it for the odd game, but early in the year we’re scoring goals but the defensive game wasn’t there. We clean up our defensive game and now we’re not scoring goals. Now we’ve got to put it all together.”
The Blues have scored in just two of their last 13 periods and were blanked on two power play chances on Tuesday night, extending their streak without a power-play goal to 17 consecutive opportunities.”
Both Yeo and the three players who spoke to the media – Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and Tyler Bozek – all expressed frustration that the Blues have not found a way to generate more and better scoring chances.
They had 29 shots on goal against rookie Calvin Petersen but not many were quality chances or second or third opportunities.
“We’re leaking away from the net again,” Yeo said. “We’re being kept to the outside, we’re looking for the easy ice and I think we saw the desperation to get to the net with about five minutes left but that’s too late.
“As a player you think you need the puck to score a goal. You want the puck, it’s easy to go where the ice is available. Teams are going to protect the middle. The league has become tighter. It’s harder to score goals right now because teams are better on the inside of the ice. I still think that we’re forcing too many plays in the offensive zone, which leads to one and done.”
The Kings scored on a 2-on-1 break midway through the second period against Jake Allen, the only goal of the game before they scored into an empty net with 30 seconds left and before a chorus of boos rang down from the hometown fans.
“It’s disappointing to lose this game at home,” Yeo said. “You want to bounce back after the last game (a 4-0 loss Saturday night in San Jose). You want to win every game. It sucks when you lose, that’s for sure.
“It’s about winning games, especially for us right now. … We’ve got to find a way to make a play, we’ve got to find a way to capitalize on a power play, we’ve got to find a way to score with the goalie out, whatever it is. We’re just not doing that right now.”
Now the Blues will try to do that with a new coach. The upcoming stretch of games begins against the Predators in Nashville.
“If there is a time to win some games and string them together it’s now,” Pietrangelo said, also before Yeo was fired. “These are some pretty good opponents. We’ve got to be ready.”