‘Character matters’: Maple Leafs introduce Craig Berube as head coach

New Maple Leafs head coach Craig Berube wants his team to be highly competitive every night. As Lindsay Dunn reports, Berube says he is going to bring his own style to Toronto.

Craig Berube was introduced as the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

Berube became the 32nd head coach in team history when he was hired on Friday. He replaced Sheldon Keefe, who was fired on May 9, less than a week after the club lost Game 7 of the first round in overtime against the Boston Bruins.

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.

Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving elaborated on the decision to hire Berube, embracing his past connection with his players and his ability to communicate with the team and staff.

“Ultimately, character matters. It matters with your team, and it matters with your head coach,” Treliving said on Tuesday.

Berube was their guy, Treliving says

When asked about specific changes the team could expect to see under the new bench boss, Berube said he’s looking forward to implementing his own style.

“Brad and Brendan [Shanahan] are on board with that,” Berube said. “They think a lot similarly to myself, and all I can do is focus on now and going forward, how we want to build the team here and how we want to look on the ice.”

Treliving also revealed that the front office met with as many as nine head coaching candidates but kept returning to Berube, who checked all of their boxes.

“It’s a huge honour, obviously. A great franchise, Original Six. I’m very honoured to be the head coach,” Berube said. “The core is great here. That was definitely one of the attractions coming to coach this team.”

Berube will be tasked with getting the Leafs’ offensively gifted—and playoff-challenged—core, led by Auston Matthews, to the next level. Toronto has lost eight of nine series dating back to 2017.

Berube was known for his physical style of play and served primarily as an enforcer or tough guy on the ice. The 58-year-old played for the Maple Leafs for one season in 1991-92. He was traded to Calgary in January of 1992 in a deal that saw Doug Gilmour acquired by the Maple Leafs.

The bruising forward scored 60 goals, 159 points, and 3,149 penalty minutes in 1,054 games across 17 NHL campaigns with the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders, and Leafs from 1987 through 2003.

He added three goals, an assist and 211 penalty minutes in 89 playoff appearances.

With files from The Canadian Press

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