The Bernie Bits
Craig Berube, is the top new big dog among NHL coaches. Well, at least among the new guys who were elevated to head coach to replace the bosses fired by their teams.
Excluding Bob Murray — who has coached Anaheim for only four games after replacing the fired Randy Carlyle — Berube has the best winning percentage (.650) among the five NHL interim coaches that took over teams earlier this season.
Here’s a look at each interim-coaching performance in order of percentage of points won:
Berube, St. Louis … 25-13-2, .650
Scott Gordon, Philadelphia … 16-10-3, .603
Jeremy Colliton, Chicago … 20-20-6, .500
Willie Desjardins, Los Angeles … 19-22-5 … .467
Ken Hitchcock, Edmonton … 15-19-5 … .449
A few other notes on this: Colliton’s .500 points percentage in Chicago is exactly the same as Joel Quenneville, who was idiotically fired by the Blackhawks after a 6-6-3 start … in Edmonton, old friend Hitchcock has actually fared worse (.449) with the Oilers than Todd McLellan, who was sacked after a 9-10-1 start (.475) …
And here’s another way of looking at the magnitude of Berube’s coaching and the difference he’s made with the Blues. Here’s a quickie list showing the improvement (or futility) in percentage of points for each team since making the coaching change:
→ Flyers, +151 percent (Gordon .603; Dave Hakstol .452)
→ Kings, + 121 percent (Desjardin .467, John Stevens .346)
→ Blackhawks, no change (both coaches, .500)
→ Oilers, minus 26 percent (McLellan .475, Hitchcock .449)
In my opinion Berube already has earned the chance to go forward, into next season, as the Blues head coach. It’s a matter of time before management removes the interim tag.
READING TIME, 8 MINUTES:
Let’s call this the Paul Goldschmidt Edition…
* Three Cardinals made the “Top 100 Right Now” list of MLB players: Cards frst baseman Paul Goldschmidt was No. 16, third baseman Matt Carpenter No. 33, and left fielder Marcell Ozuna No. 76.
* After being traded to the Cardinals from a West division team (Arizona), will Goldschmidt find everything he wants in St. Louis and be motivated to sign a contract to stay here? As Tyler Kepner of the New York Times pointed out, Goldschmidt could follow the historical example of Jim Edmonds — who signed a new deal quickly to remain with the Cardinals after a trade from Anaheim before the 2000 season. Edmonds bypassed free agency because he knew STL was right for him. Will Goldy do the same?
* Kepner sought Edmonds’ opinion. “It’s Cardinal baseball, it’s the Midwest, it’s one of the best places to play in the country, and you find that out from Day 1,” Edmonds said. “It’s a different time, a different era and I don’t know what the players are going through now, but hopefully he likes it and blends in. It’s also an organizational thing, too. Do they really want to keep him, and how does he play this year?”
* Final excerpt from the Kepner piece on Goldschmidt: Cardinals’ prez John Mozeliak has a vision in mind. “Anytime you complete a deal, there’s always some level of satisfaction, especially this magnitude of player — but, really, the excitement is going to come when he gets introduced at Busch Stadium. There’s a lot leading up to that, but I think he’s going to realize that St. Louis is a very special place and ultimately one that we want him to someday call home.”
* Meanwhile, in comments delivered separately, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt shared his early observations of Goldschmidt with the Associated Press. “A lot of times the hyperbole doesn’t meet what’s real,” Shildt said. “In this case it’s exceeded it. He’s come in and been unbelievably engaging, thoughtful, proactive. He’s really smart and he’s really dedicated to what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. He’s exceeded expectations already, before we even got on the field.”
* The Athletic asked Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall about the Goldschmidt trade to St. Louis and the financial pressures that went into the decision. The Arizona payroll is burdened by the massive amount of dollars (nearly $100 million) still owed to pitcher Zack Greinke. Did that make it especially difficult for the D-backs to sign Goldschmidt to a contract extension?
“It would have been challenging, but you can always find ways,” Hall said. “You can get creative with salaries. In our case, with the uncertainty that was going to happen after this year with Goldy, that played into the decision as well. It wasn’t strictly financial. Financial played a big part of it, but it was also what that return package was going to be. I think there was a possibility that we would have stayed with Goldy and maybe continued to try to figure out a long-term solution, although we had a pretty good idea what that was going to look like. Where we thought we would have had to go, it probably would not have worked with a salary already committed to like Greinke’s – and others, not just Zack’s. But there’s always ways to get creative to fit larger commitments onto a roster or into your payroll structure. We were just more focused on what’s the return going to be because we figured Paul was going to test free agency, as he should. We were just too intrigued and impressed with the return we got.”
* Here’s another example of why teammates — including former teammates — love Goldy: after learning in December hat he’d be moving to first base for the Diamondbacks this season, third baseman Jake Lamb asked for Goldschmidt’s advice. And Lamb received a more than advice. Goldschmidt and Lamb met once a week to discuss the nuances of playing the position — covering every aspect of what it takes to become a good defender at first base. And Goldy gave Lamb a parting gift: one of his first-base gloves.
“Everything is true about him being one of the best people in the game, one of the best players in the game, one of the best hitters in the game, one of the best defensive first basemen in the game,” Lamb said. “It truly is special the type of person he is. He wants to help others.”
* At the D-backs camp in Arizona, two former Cardinals are transitioning to their new team: pitcher Luke Weaver and catcher Carson Kelly. Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo doesn’t want the two young major leaguers to feel pressure to please everyone after being dealt to AZ for the very popular (and valuable) Goldschmidt.
“When they were traded over, those were the first conversations that I began to have with them about just being themselves, embracing the organization the way we’re embracing them,” Lovullo told azcentral.com. “We chose them for a reason — because they’ve very special players. (I want them) to try to get over the fact that (you) happened (to be) brought over for somebody along the lines of Paul.”
Carson Kelly added, “The only thing I can do is be me. Luke can be him. We can’t try to be Goldy. We can’t try to replicate what he did. We have to be ourselves and that’s when we’re going to be at our best on the field and off the field.”
Happy Birthday: Ernie McMillan, a longtime starter at offensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals, is 81 today. Drafted out of Illinois in the 13th round in 1961, McMillan played in 174 games for the Cardinals from 1961 through 1974. He was a standout at OT, and later coached the offensive line under head coach Jim Hanifan in St. Louis…
Happy Birthday II: Ted Savage, an outfielder for the Cardinals from 1965-1967, is 82. After retiring as a player, Savage earned a Ph.D. in urban studies from St. Louis University, spent nine years as athletic director at Harris-Stowe State, and was hired by the Cardinals in 1987 to coordinate community outreach programs. Dr. Savage retired in 2012 after 25 seasons in the Cardinals’ front office.
Blues Notes: The Blues go for their 12th consecutive win tonight, in Dallas. And we know that Blues fans will be watching. The Nielsen rating for Tuesday’s game — Toronto at STL — pulled a 7.7 Nielsen rating, the highest for a regular-season Blues game in St. Louis carried by NBC Sports Network … since New Year’s Day the Blues have gained 16 points on Dallas by posting the NHL’s best record at 17-4-1. On New Year’s Eve the Blues trailed Dallas by 10 points in the division standings, 44-34. But the Blues go into tonight’s game with a six-point lead over Dallas in the Central, shoving the Stars into 4th place. … the Blues are 11-2-1 on the road since the calendar moved into 2019 … and since Craig Berube became coach on Nov. 21, the Blues have the league’s second-best road winning percentage at .705 with a road record of 15-6-1…. The Blues have won 8 in a row on the road, and haven’t lost away from Enterprise Center since making a bunch of mental mistakes in a 4-3 setback in Los Angeles on Jan. 21.
Happy Birthday III: Chad Hutchinson is 42. You may be remember him. A highly touted pitching prospect drafted in the second round by the Cardinals, Hutchinson briefly made it to the majors in 2001 (pitching four innings) before moving to the NFL. The former Stanford quarterback lasted three seasons as a QB with Dallas (2002, 2003) and Chicago (2004.) In 15 NFL games (14 starts) Hutch completed only 53.3% of his attempts with 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions and a poor passer rating of 69.1 … former Cardinals’ lefty Tyler Lyons is 31; he’s in the Pittsburgh camp, trying to earn a spot on the Pirates pitching staff … former Blues defenseman Ian Cole is 30; after 167 games with the Blues (beginning in 2010) Cole was traded to Pittsburgh during the 2014-2015 season. He was a top-six defensemen for the Penguins’ teams that won back to back Stanley Cups (2016, 2017.) After a season with Columbus, Cole has played in 53 games for Colorado this season.
This Day in Sports History: In 1969 the great Ted Williams agreed to a five-year contract to manage the Washington Senators … in 1974, Tom Seaver became the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history by signing a one-year contract for $172,000. Seaver won 311 games, three Cy Young awards and was a 12-time All-Star during an extraordinary 20-year big-league career… After a trade to Cincinnati in 1986, future Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers refused to cut off his handlebar mustache to comply with the Reds’ team policy — and retired after 17 MLB seasons highlighted by 341 career saves and the AL Cy Young award and MVP in 1981.
Thanks for reading…