NHL

Toronto Maple Leafs hire Craig Berube as coach, hoping veteran can turn around longtime playoff woes

Toronto Maple Leafs hire Craig Berube as coach, hoping veteran can turn around longtime playoff woes

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Arizona Coyotes

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Craig Berube as their coach on Friday, bringing in someone with Stanley Cup-winning experience to try to help the storied franchise end the longest championship drought in the NHL.

Berube coached the St. Louis Blues to the Cup in 2019. The Maple Leafs have not won since 1967, when the league had just six teams.

Toronto President Brendan Shanahan and general manager Brad Treliving moved quickly to hire Berube as the replacement for Sheldon Keefe, who was fired after another early playoff exit. The Leafs lost in the first round for the fourth time in five years under Keefe, a stretch in which they won just one series.

Berube, 58, led the Blues to the playoffs five times in seven seasons, winning five series. The Blues, who promoted Berube midseason on the way to winning the only title in franchise history, fired him in December. He has been doing TV work with TNT in the United States.

Toronto is the Calahoo, Alberta, native’s third NHL head-coaching job, including two seasons with Philadelphia (2013-15). He is the third coach for the Maple Leafs since the team put together the core group of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares, following Keefe and Mike Babcock.

Affectionately nicknamed “Chief” based on being of First Nations descent, Berube moved into coaching after playing 1,143 games in the league from 1987-2003. That included half a season with the Leafs in 1991-92 before being dealt to Calgary in the nine-player trade that sent Doug Gilmour to Toronto.

The team posted to social media photos of Berube in a Toronto uniform with the message, “Welcome back coach.” He’s set to be introduced at a news conference Tuesday.

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