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Craig Berube named as next head coach of Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have named Craig Berube as their new head coach.

The NHL club announced Berube as the 41st head coach in franchise history in a release Friday.

Berube, who replaces Sheldon Keefe after he was fired May 8, won the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019.

Sent packing by the club in December after missing the playoffs last spring, the 58-year-old from Calahoo, Alta., owns a 281-190-72 coaching record over parts of eight NHL seasons with the Blues and Philadelphia Flyers.

He was promoted from an assistant’s role to the top job in St. Louis on an interim basis in November 2018 before leading the Blues to the franchise’s first title some seven months later.

He was a finalist for that season’s Jack Adams Award as NHL coach of the year.

The Maple Leafs said Berube will be made available at a press conference Tuesday.

The bruising Berube put up 60 goals, 159 points and 3,149 penalty minutes in 1,054 games across 17 NHL campaigns as a winger 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.

Berube also had a supporting role in one of Toronto’s franchise-altering moments.

Traded three times in quick succession following the 1990-91 season, the second brought him to the Leafs for a 40-game stint before he was included in the blockbuster 10-player deal with Calgary that saw Toronto acquire Doug Gilmour.

The gritty centre and fan favourite would lead the Original Six franchise on memorable back-to-back runs to the conference final in 1993 and 1994.

Berube, who has been doing TV work with TNT in the United States, spent his final professional season in the American Hockey League as a player/coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 2003-04 before becoming a full-time assistant.

He eventually joined the Flyers’ bench and was promoted to head coach three games into the 2013-14 campaign. Berube made the playoffs that first season, but missed out the following April and was fired.

After a year away from the pro game, he signed up to coach the AHL’s Chicago Wolves in 2016-17 and joined the Blues as an associate the next season before taking the reins after Mike Yeo was dismissed 19 games into 2018-19.

Berube takes over a team in Toronto that lost to the Boston Bruins in this year’s playoffs after trailing the first-round series 3-1.

The Leafs advanced in the post-season for the first time in nearly two decades last spring, but lost five of six series under Keefe, including four winner-take-all contests.

Berube, meanwhile, won two Game 7s during the Blues’ run to the Cup, including a title-clinching victory on the road in Boston.

He enters a locker room in Toronto — an organization with a title drought that stretches back to 1967 — featuring an ultra-talented group led by Auston Matthews that has been unable to truly break through in the playoffs.

It will be Berube’s task to finish the job.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2024.

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