Craig Berube, aka The Chief, is no longer the coach of the St. Louis Blues as of Wednesday morning.

The day before, the Blues lost a fourth consecutive game, 6-4 against the Detroit Red Wings. This lethargy kept them out of a playoff spot and, worse, the Oilers, with their eight straight wins, are now ahead of them in the standings, just behind the Arizona Coyotes and the last spot giving access to the playoffs.

The Oilers were 3-9-1 when coach Jay Woodcroft was fired. It stands at 10-3 under Kris Knoblauch. The Minnesota Wild also restarted their season after the departure of Dean Evason with a 5-2 record under John Hynes, having won only five of their first nineteen games.

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong is undoubtedly hoping to save the team’s season by sacrificing one of the heroes of the improbable conquest of the Stanley Cup in 2019. And perhaps he will succeed.

The Blues, it must nevertheless be admitted, have had a strange journey since Armstrong took office in 2010: never too weak to be regularly excluded from the series, never too strong to dominate season after season, apart from this unexpected Cup after spending the first half of the season in the cellar of the rankings. A club condemned to remain in the middle of the pack.

The early years of Doug Armstrong’s reign saw the Blues dominate the regular season standings, with a core of Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo, Jaden Schwartz, David Perron, Paul Stastny, Alex Steen, Kevin Shattenkirk, Jay Bouwmeester and Colton Parayko . They even reached the final four in 2016, but missed the playoffs in 2018 before the first conquest in their history.

Since their unlikely victory, with an unlikely goaltender, Jordan Binnington, St. Louis has lost twice in the first round, once in the second round and could miss the playoffs for a second straight year.

The Blues don’t have a bad club, but not a great team either. Their starting center, 24-year-old Robert Thomas, is a slightly improved version of Nick Suzuki offensively. Behind him, 28-year-old Pavel Buchnevich is producing a little less this year than in the previous two seasons.

But they don’t rely on the biggest wingers. Brandon Saad and Kasperi Kapanen have been losing momentum in recent years. Jordan Kyrou, 25, has just five goals after scoring 37 last year. 2020 first-round pick, 26th overall, Jake Neighbors, is expected to play on the top line at 21 years old. He has 11 points in 28 games, but 10 goals.

Brayden Schenn is also on the decline after having the season of his career last year at age 32 with 65 points. He plays center on the third line with left winger Kevin Hayes, dropped by the Flyers this summer.

The defense has no impact players. The top four is made up of athletes in their early 30s who no longer hold out hope: Torey Krug, who had a trade to the Flyers fall through this summer, Justin Faulk, Colton Parayko and Nick Leddy. Goalkeeper Jordan Binnington is ordinary again.

Succession ? We’ll see. Zachary Bolduc, the 17th overall pick in 2021, has 10 points, including 4 goals, in 22 games in his first AHL season. Winger Jimmy Snuggerud, the 23rd overall pick in 2022, saw his production drop below points per game at the University of Minnesota after a splendid rookie year of 50 points in 40 games.

St. Louis was able to take advantage of three first-round picks last summer, including 10th overall pick Dalibor Dvorsky, 34 points in 20 games in Sudbury of the Ontario Junior League, and two late-round picks. first round, center Otto Stenberg and defenseman Theo Lindstein, obtained for rental players Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly.

Armstrong always knew how to keep his ship afloat with timid resets throughout his twelve-plus year reign. Perhaps the dismissal of Berube will once again allow him to save the furniture and keep the Blues competitive. But the next Cup?

The Canadiens’ opponents on Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins, won an expected victory against the Coyotes on Tuesday, after four consecutive losses, but they remain four points behind the Washington Capitals and the last place giving access to the playoffs, with two games less to argue about.

New Penguins boss Kyle Dubas told Pittsburgh reporters on Monday that he would give himself until the All-Star break before making any decisions moving forward. If the Penguins were to be excluded from the playoff picture on this date, who knows if Dubas will resolve to begin a reconstruction, but his stars now aged in their late thirties will be difficult to trade due to their contractual situation, apart from Sidney Crosby, still very productive and tied to the Penguins for just one more year.

The acquisition of Erik Karlsson also caused Pittsburgh to lose a valuable first-round pick in 2024 and increased the payroll. The Penguins’ prospect bank is also almost empty, but Dubas, with a seven-year contract, will have time on his hands.