Thomas pushes back on Berube's criticism: 'Everyone in that room cares'
Less than 24 hours after St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube questioned his players' dedication, young star Robert Thomas stood up for his teammates.
"Yeah, it's obviously frustrating to hear that," Thomas said of Berube's harsh criticism during an appearance on "The Opening Drive" on Friday. "I've been a part of this team for a long time. What he said couldn't be further from the truth. I know everyone in that room cares."
Berube was the talk of the hockey world following the Blues' 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks that saw his team surrender a 2-1 lead with 29 seconds remaining in regulation.
A clearly frustrated Berube said St. Louis' best players "don't play with any passion." When asked why he wasn't getting what he wanted from his top guys, he quipped, "I guess they don't care about the team."
Berube doubled down on his comments on Friday.
"I don't regret things, no. Like I said, we need to be better as a team," he said, according to NHL.com's Lou Korac. "Individuals need to be better, and that's the bottom line. We need to be better. I need to be better. Coaching staff needs to be better.
"So, we've got to work on getting better. Sometimes you say things, and hopefully, you get a response."
Thomas, who was a minus-two and failed to register a point during the loss, echoed Berube's emphasis on accountability. The 23-year-old will enter the first season of an eight-year, $65-million extension in 2023-24 and is largely viewed as a key piece of the Blues' future.
"You always learn through winning, you learn a lot about what it takes to win and how a team should be in order to succeed," Thomas said. "I think you learn even more when you're losing and when you're going through a disaster. I think this is the best time for guys to step up, including myself."
The Blues are currently navigating a time of mass change. With the team's playoff hopes dwindling, St. Louis parted ways with pending unrestricted free agents and franchise mainstays Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly earlier this month.
After sending Tarasenko to the New York Rangers, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said the team's 2019 Stanley Cup-winning era was over.
Armstrong confronted Thursday's postgame drama in a press conference on Friday.
"We can allow this to snowball, and we can allow this to be the talking point of how we're going to finish the rest of this season, or we can address it, understand the raw emotion of it," he said. "But at some point, you have to move on. Today is the day we have to move on."
The Blues' next chance to move forward will come Saturday against the floundering Pittsburgh Penguins.