NHL

Toronto Maple Leafs name Craig Berube coach

By Sports Desk May 17, 2024

The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Craig Berube as their new head coach on Friday, bringing a Stanley Cup champion to a franchise that holds the longest stretch without a title in NHL history.

Berube, who guided the St. Louis Blues to their lone Stanley Cup title in 2018-19, comes aboard just over a week after the Maple Leafs fired Sheldon Keefe following a first-round exit in this year's play-offs.

The 58-year-old Berube, a former Toronto player known for his hard-nosed and disciplined coaching approach, compiled a 206-132-44 record in six seasons with St. Louis. The Blues reached the play-offs in the first four of those seasons, but missed the post-season in 2022-23 and got off to a 13-14-1 start in 2023-24 before Berube was fired on Dec. 12.

Berube did enjoy instant success after replacing Mike Yeo behind the Blues' bench in November 2018. St. Louis was near the bottom of the Western Conference at the time of the switch, but rebounded to make the post-season before winning three play-off series prior to defeating the Boston Bruins in seven games in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

He'll now take over a Toronto team that has won just one play-off series since 2006 and last hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1968, a 56-year drought that stands as the longest in NHL history.

The Maple Leafs reached the play-offs in all five of their seasons under Keefe, but he won just one of six post-season series and was let go on May 9 after Toronto lost to the rival Bruins in seven games in this year's first round.

"We had gotten to a place where just a new voice was needed," Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving said in announcing Keefe's dismissal. "And that's the unfortunate part of this business. I do not believe that you turn coaches and you keep turning coaches. I don't think that is the recipe for success at all. I just felt at the end of the day, when I look at the totality of his time here, a change was required."

Berube, who also spent two seasons as the Philadelphia Flyers' head coach from 2013-15, inherits a talented roster that produced the second-most goals in the NHL this season. Star centre Auston Matthews led the league with 69 goals, the highest individual total by any player in a season since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux also had 69 for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1995-96.

A rugged forward who spent 17 seasons as an NHL player with five teams, Berube has assembled a 281-190-72 overall record as a head coach and was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award honouring the league's top coach in 2018-19.

Berube's hire leaves four teams - the New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets - still with coaching vacancies. The Buffalo Sabres (Lindy Ruff) and Ottawa Senators (Travis Green) previously hired new head coaches within the last month. 

 

 

 

 

 

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