Gordo’s year-end Blues report card: Management and coaches | St. Louis Blues

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong watches his players take part in drills on  the second day of the team’s 2021 training camp at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. (David Carson, [email protected])

Doug Armstrong, general manager

As Armstrong noted in his season wrap-up, the Blues have remained consistently good for more than a decade. That puts them in the elite company with teams like Boston, Washington and Pittsburgh over in the Eastern Conference.

This consistent success has left them without high draft picks, since the team earned poor draft position due to its regular season success. The Blues also swapped draft picks for proven talent to stay good year after year.

Credit Armstrong for making smart trades and spending his salary cap dollars wisely to keep them in the chase. Trading for Pavel Buchnevich and signing Brandon Saad as a free agent paid last summer paid off this season. So did the acquisition of Nick Leddy at the trade deadline. And the Blues are positioned to bring the bulk a very good team back next season.

Blues host Wild for Game 3

Blues head coach Craig Berube directs from the bench as in the first period against the Minnesota Wild in game 3 of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs at Enterprise Center on Friday, May 6, 2022, in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Christian [email protected]

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After back-to-back postseason washouts, the Blues moved back into NHL relevance by defeating the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the playoffs and taking a good run at the powerful Colorado Avalanche in the second round.

Credit Berube for setting high standards while also fostering an atmosphere that allowed the Blues to reestablish their strong team game. He is a demanding head coach who also listens.

On his watch, still-developing players like Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Niko Mikkola, Ville Husso and Alexei Toropchenko made strides. He got maximum production from veterans like Vladimir Tarasenko, Justin Faulk and David Perron and helped newcomers like Buchnevich, Saad and Leddy blend into the group. He also proved adept at making adjustments from game to game and period to period.

Back to work

Blues head coach Craig Berube, left, and assistant coach Jim Montgomery watch players skate during a practice at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights on Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. Photo by Colter Peterson, [email protected]

Jim Montgomery, assistant coach

He was a rising coaching star until off-ice issues derailed him in Dallas. He tackled his problems head on and revived his career. His outstanding work with the Blues reminded the rest of the league why he enjoyed so much success as a collegiate and NHL head coach. Montgomery oversaw the Blues’ sturdy penalty-killing unit, which ranked fifth in the league with an 84.1 percent kill rate.

NHL insiders believe Montgomery will draw interest from several teams looking for a head coach in this offseason.

Blues workouts continue before sequestered season

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Steve Ott watches the morning workout on Thursday July 23, 2020, at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights. Photo by Christian Gooden, [email protected]

Steve Ott, assistant coach

When the Blues needed to set up an offensive play coming out of a timeout, it was usually Ott who furiously went to work diagramming it on a whiteboard. He oversaw the team’s highly successful power-play unit, which ranked second in the NHL this season with 27 percent efficiency.

The fiery Ott is not far removed from his 848-game NHL playing career, so he relates well to today’s players. He remains an elite chirper, a skill he may need to downplay if he gets a head coaching opportunity.

Blues workouts continue before sequestered season

St. Louis Blues assistant coach Mike Van Ryn, center, watches players during the morning workout on Thursday July 23, 2020, at the Centene Community Ice Center in Maryland Heights. Photo by Christian Gooden, [email protected]

Mike Van Ryn, assistant coach

Like Montgomery and Ott, Van Ryn could draw interest from NHL teams seeking a head coach this summer. He has checked all the boxes.

Van Ryn, who started his playing career with the Blues, has been a head coach at the major junior and AHL levels and a player development coach with the Arizona Coyotes.

With the Blues, he has overseen the defensive corps. Injuries created constant challenges with that group this season and Van Ryn managed it on a shift-to-shift basis. The Blues somehow won a playoff game against the Wild while playing their No. 8, No. 9 and No. 10 defensemen.