Craig MacTavish hasn’t seen it all when it comes to the world of hockey. Just most of them.
As a player he won three Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and one with the New York Rangers in a career that lasted 17 seasons and more than 1,000 regular season games.
He was the Oilers’ coach and general manager, and led them to the Cup Finals as coach in 2005-2006, where they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games. It is the last appearance in the Edmonton Cup, which missed the playoffs in 12 of the following 16 seasons.
He trained briefly in the KHL and in Switzerland, and recently he did analytical work on television.
But last season, he felt a strange sensation: boredom.
“Last winter was the first winter in a long time that I wasn’t on a team,” McAvish told Post-Dispatch. “I did some broadcasts in Edmonton with Sportsnet. But I was bored. I missed the match. So I was looking for a chance to do something.”
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This “thing” turned out to be the blues assistant coach. At the age of 64, MacTavish replaced Jim Montgomery, who left to become the coach of the Boston Bruins. The Blues announced the appointment of MacTavish on July 1 – the same day Boston announced that it would hire Montgomery to replace Bruce Cassidy.
Apparently the Blues were talking to MacTavish when it became clear that Montgomery might be leaving.
And it’s not as if McCavish wasn’t familiar with General Manager Doug Armstrong, coach Craig Perrob or the City of St. Louis.
“Doug and I worked on a world championship many years ago when Hitch (Ken Hitchcock) was the coach, and I was one of the assistant coaches,” McTavish said. “And I’ve known Doug for a bit from my time as a manager, and I reconnected with him a little bit.”
As for MacTavish and Berube, they were in a training camp together as Edmonton players before the 1991-92 season but Berube was traded before the start of the regular season (to Toronto).
“I haven’t seen much of him since, but I’ve known him well enough since those days and know his game,” McTavish said. “In this game, your reputation is a really open door, and I’ve heard a lot of great things about Craig. He obviously had a lot of appreciation for the work he did with the Blues, winning the Cup and making them a real strong team that expects to win every year.”
As for St. Louis, MacTavish played the last 63 regular season games of his career (and the last 14 playoff games) for the Blues during the 1995-96 and 96-97 seasons. He was the last player without a helmet in the NHL when he retired.
“Mike Keenan replaced Dale Horchuk for me,” MacTavish said. “I came here and joined a few of my old mates (in Edmonton): Wayne Gretsky, Glenn Anderson, Grant Four, Charlie Hody.
“I really enjoyed my time here in St. Louis. The first year I arrived, we beat Detroit – well documented Game 7, double overtime, on Stevie Wasserman’s goal. We had a chance then. We had a great time all staying in the same hotel together We all had families but none of them were here, so we focused entirely on hockey.”
During his second season – an entire season – MacTavish brought the family together. So when asked to name his favorite restaurant, he stopped and said, “My house is in Bologne. We’ve been going to the Italian Quarter (the hill) for a bit. But I don’t remember going out too often. Our kids were really young. We had three of them. It’s been a very busy home life.” .
MacTavish said he went to more restaurants in his first 10 days in St. Louis this time than he did in his 1 years here as a player a quarter of a century ago.
“Great city,” he said.
Whether it’s coaches or advisors, Armstrong loves to bring experienced hockey minds into the organization. And it doesn’t hurt if they win before. Like former adviser Larry Robinson, the Hall of Fame man of defense. or MacTavish.
And Berube is safe enough in his own skin that he welcomes help.
“He’s been around for a long time in a number of different roles,” Birubi said of MacTavish. “Head coach, assistant coach, general manager. He did a lot of things.
“He’s a great team player. A very smart guy. Smart. He thinks things through. Just a world of knowledge, and I think having a guy like this around our staff – we are very fortunate to learn from him, and to hear from him.”
Among the duties of MacTavish to the Berube staff will be the execution of penalty kicks, which Montgomery managed last season. The Blues ranked fifth in the league in mass killing efficiency in 2021-22 with 84.1 percent. It’s up to MacTavish to keep the unit going, even without a pair of key players from last season in Tyler Bozak (who is no longer with the team) and Marco Scandella (who will be missing most of the season after hip surgery).
“He’s been great so far,” Captain Ryan O’Reilly said mid-camp. “Obviously, with so many corpses at the moment, the full set hasn’t been assembled yet. But still, we did some things with him. I think it was pretty cool.
“I think he’d be a great addition for us in helping us out like that. And just off the ice, seeing him around, I think he’s a great guy and fun to be around. You can tell he’s excited to be here and to be part of our group. So it was great to have him.” With us “.
MacTavish spent the time before camp learning the blues system and terminology, which he likened to learning a new language.
He soon gained respect for the coaching apparatus, from Berube down.
“They are hardworking and competent coaches,” McVish said. “These guys have a really good perspective on things. What it takes to win – they know, they’ve won before. That’s important. You can see very quickly why this organization is successful. And hopefully that continues.”
As for Berube, MacTavish said: “He totally understands the level of commitment and work ethic it takes to win and be successful at that level. He sees a lot in the game. I think he has a great perspective on his interactions with the players.
“He is straightforward, straightforward, just and demanding. Those are great qualities.”
Of course, MacTavish also knows what it takes to win – quadruple.
“It’s hard to win,” he said. Winning requires organizational commitment. Hard hockey and tournament hockey is really hard.”
The blues hope the MacTavish addition will make this task a little easier. One thing is for sure – it won’t be boring.