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Toronto’s New Head Coach: Here’s What To Expect

The Toronto Maple Leafs introduced their new head coach with a press conference on Tuesday. Here’s what we learned about the hire. This was the first time Craig Berube faced the media as a member of the Maple Leafs. Berube was officially named head coach on May 17, about one week after they fired Sheldon Keefe.

Meet the Toronto Maple Leafs New Head Coach Craig Berube

Since the firing of Keefe, Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan and General Manager Brad Treliving made it their mission to find a new head coach. In this press conference, Treliving mentioned that in the interviewing process of looking for a coach, they spoke with nine candidates. There were rumours of one of the candidates being Todd McLellan, as well as other coaches, but Berube stood out to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) and the Leafs management.

Treliving said in the press conference that despite all the candidates that were interviewed, it “kept coming back to Craig,” he said. The Maple Leafs general manager also shared that he learned more about Berube’s reputation in the NHL. Players who played under Berube said that he is a great communicator. Moreover, he creates a special bond and relationship with them. Here is what Toronto’s new head coach will bring to the team and what he wants from his players.


One of the philosophy’s of Berube and discussions about him, even before the Maple Leafs hired him, was about his accountability. He holds accountability over the players, whether it’s based on performance, work ethic, or anything else. However, it was discussed that being able to hold accountability on your players doesn’t just happen overnight. Berube said that for accountability to work, you have to be close to the players and there has to be an understanding between management and the roster. He talked about how he’s already met with many of the players on the team to begin building that relationship.

During his time with the St. Louis Blues, there was a moment where he showed how important accountability is to him. Back in February 2023, the Blues were defeated by the Vancouver Canucks in overtime. In the post-game press conference, Berube went on a rant about how he felt that his top players didn’t care. “They don’t play inspired hockey. You cannot play in this league without emotion, grit, being inspired. They’re getting paid lots of money and they’re not doing the job,” Berube said. Therefore, Toronto’s top stars better be ready for some tough love if they don’t perform up to pay grade and standards in this coming season.

Playing Heavy

Another aspect of the game that Berube finds important is being able to play heavy. When he says this, he doesn’t mean to run people over and things like that, “the game’s changed,” he said. However, he still believes that you need to be strong on pucks and win puck battles in order to be successful. “Those are priorities for me,” he said.

Toronto’s new head coach also played for the organization back in the early ’90s for a short time. He was then traded to the Calgary Flames as part of the deal that brought Doug Gilmour to Toronto. But, Berube played, like how he coaches, tough and hard-nosed. To give an idea of what that means, Berube is seventh on the all-time list for penalty minutes with 3,149. While he won’t ask his players to go out and fight every night, fans can expect a more physical brand of hockey.

Toronto’s New Head Coach wants His Team to Play Fast and North

When Berube was asked about what made him ultimately settle on the idea of coaching Toronto, he said touched on a few things. However, what really attracted him to become Toronto’s new head coach was the top talent on the team. He feels that with the amount of talent that the Leafs hold, he will be able to get Toronto over that next hump.

In the presser, he established that he wants to “play a north game,” and he wants, “to play fast.” Under Keefe, the Leafs were all about puck-possession. The idea of holding the puck was evident whenever the Leafs would attack, and especially on the power play. Toronto would often look for the perfect play before making a reaction. Although, Berube stressed the fact that he’s looking to play as fast as they can.

With every good coach, there’s a good plan and structure, and that’s what Berube is looking to bring. He said that structure is huge and another priority for him. On top of that, he’s looking to play a simple game with nothing cute. The way he said it was “just playing predictable and north.” Looks like there will be some changes to the way the Toronto Maple Leafs approach the game.

Main photo credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports


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