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Two years ago, the St. Louis Blues had the worst record in the National Hockey League. They were sitting in the basement in last place with 34 points as the new year began.

What did interim coach Craig Berube do to get his team to win 11 straight games, finish the regular season with 99 points and go on to win the Stanley Cup?

Much has been written about this fairy tale season for the Blues. But Berube’s coaching came down to a few simple attributes, maybe just one.

Hockey team. Energy team. The insights are applicable to both:

  1. Hockey is a team sport. Everyone on that Blues team had a job to do and Berube expected them to do it. During the playoff run, 20 of the 21 Blues skaters scored goals.
    Energy management is a team sport. Every energy team player has something to contribute. Make sure all are engaged. Seek out each person’s input.
  2. Focus on the basics. Berube concentrated on getting his team to, among other things, control the puck in the offensive zone and get to the net.
    Controlling energy is job one for an energy team in an organization. Data management, measurement and reporting are core competencies. Get them right.   
  3. Take failure in stride. Berube didn’t let setbacks define the team. His quote? “It’s difficult to lose in overtime playoffs, and… gotta move on[1].” The Blues were handed a 7-2 pounding at the hands of the Boston Bruins in front of a hometown crowd. They came back and beat the Bruins anyway in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup. To get through 4 playoff rounds, it took the Blues 26 games to win the 16 that counted.
    Not every energy conservation measure is going to have stellar returns. Keep plugging away anyway.
  4. Celebrate success. Success gives a psychological boost. And success tends to attract success. St. Louis partied and danced to the Laura Branigan hit, “Gloria”, as the Blues winning streak theme song carried them into and through the playoffs.
    Recognize team members’ contributions when efforts produce results. Have a party, drop a note, make a phone call or organize an awards ceremony.

It all came down to coaching with emotion. One of Berube’s players summed up the season with a telling insight: “He pushes us to be better, we love playing for him, and will go through a wall for him every night.”[2]

Energy management champions take note. Your passion is an engine that drives progress and attracts commitment in your organization.


[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/shephyken/2019/06/16/business-lessons-from-a-stanley-cup-championship-coach/?sh=667d766961f7

[2] https://www.stlouisgametime.com/2020/2/29/21159422/craig-berubes-blunt-assessment-of-players-may-be-his-best-trait


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