The Toronto Maple Leafs Hire Craig Berube, the Highest Profile Coach Available

The Leafs talented core of players will soon be playing for their third coach. If new hire Berube doesn't find more success than his predecessors, it will be evident who is behind the bench is not the team's biggest problem.
St Louis Blues v Columbus Blue Jackets
St Louis Blues v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs named Craig Berube their new head coach on Friday. He replaces Sheldon Keefe who was fired on May 9th.

With Rod Brind'Amour expected to return to the Carolina Hurricanes, and Mike Sullivan and Jon Cooper staying with their respective teams, Berube was the highest-profile coach available.

Not long after Keefe's dismissal, it became apparent that Berube was the main target in the Leafs search for a new bench boss.

The long-time former NHL player and respected coach, who helped bring a first Stanley Cup title to the St. Louis Blues is thought to have signed a four-year deal.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Hire Craig Berube, the Highest Profile Coach Available

The Leafs core (or what remains of it after the coming offseason) of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly will take the ice under their third different head coach come September.

Leafs president Brendan Shanahan first tried the experienced, Cup-winning authoritative Mike Babcock, but he was too toxic and lost the room. He was fired just a couple of seasons into an eight-year deal.

Next, came Sheldon Keefe, promoted from the Toronto Marlies, who is said to have brought a more player-friendly experience. He became the most successful regular-season coach in Leafs history, but couldn't match that achievement in the playoffs.

The Leafs most recent first-round playoff exit made it inevitable that something had to change - NHL teams seem to need a new voice every few years and with the players locked into no-movement deals, and the management taking no responsibility, the blame fell to Keefe.

In hiring Berube, the Leafs have perhaps found a middle ground between Keefe and Babcock. He doesn't have the pedigree of Babcock but has proven he can win when it counts. Berube can communicate better than Babcock, much like Keefe but with more conviction, if needed.

Now on its third coach, the onus has shifted to the core of the Leafs. There are no more excuses to be had. Each of the coaches above brings something a little different to the job.

If this roster of players can't find some success under Berube, it begs the question, "What coach can get results with this group?"

As the great Yogi Berra used to say, "It gets late early out there". The Leafs best players are not kids anymore. Matthews, Marner, and Nylander are all firmly entrenched in their prime years. Tavares and Rielly are on the other side of 30.

It is long past due for the Toronto Maple Leafs to find postseason success. A new coach offers a fresh start and new opportunity for everyone on the roster.


For the Leafs core players, it's becoming an all too familiar feeling. Berube is secured for four years.