Maple Leafs interview Berube, McLellan for head coach as teams show interest in Keefe

The Toronto Maple Leafs appear to be making progress in their search for a new head coach.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the organization interviewed Craig Berube on Saturday. Todd McLellan is also reportedly meeting with Maple Leafs brass for the opening.

McLellan was photographed at Los Angeles International Airport, waiting for a flight to Toronto.

“We all assume [McLellan] is interviewing on Monday,” Friedman said on Sportsnet’s 32 Thoughts: The Podcast. “We’ll see if this goes any deeper.”

Gerard Gallant is another head coaching candidate who could attract interest from the Maple Leafs, though an interview has yet to be confirmed.

Berube and McLellan have also interviewed with the New Jersey Devils for their head coaching vacancy.

Berube, 58, was head coach of the St. Louis Blues from 2018-19 to 2023-24. In his first season, the Blues won a Stanley Cup. Under Berube’s watch, the Blues qualified for the playoffs in four of the five seasons. He was fired at the start of the 2023-24 campaign and replaced by Drew Bannister.

McLellan, 56, has a lengthy head coaching resume, including stops in San Jose, Edmonton, and Los Angeles. He coached the Sharks for seven seasons and twice advanced to the Conference Finals. He took the Oilers to the second round of the playoffs in 2016-17.

McLellan most recently coached the Kings from 2019-20 to this past season. Los Angeles made the playoffs twice under the 56-year-old’s guidance and was eliminated in the first round on both occasions.

Keefe receiving strong interest from Devils

Sheldon Keefe, whom the Maple Leafs dismissed last week, isn’t expected to be out of a head coaching job for long.

In addition to their interest in Berube and former Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft, the Devils have already requested to meet with Keefe about their head coaching vacancy.

“I’ve had people say to me that Keefe is a big factor in this [New Jersey] job,” Friedman said. “Keefe has a legit chance at this if he wants it.”

It’s expected that a few teams have reached out to the Maple Leafs for permission to interview Keefe, who was fired by Toronto despite both sides agreeing to a contract extension last August.

Keefe uploaded a video on X, formerly known as Twitter, saying it was an honour to coach the Maple Leafs and thanked various members of the organization, including former general managers Kyle Dubas and Lou Lamoriello and current team executives Brad Treliving and Brendan Shanahan.

Keefe coached the Leafs for five seasons after replacing head coach Mike Babcock midway through 2019-20. He has the third-best regular season record (212-97-40) in Maple Leafs history, trailing only Pat Quinn and Punch Imlach.

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