What the Maple Leafs can expect from Craig Berube

Photo Credits: R.J. Johnston / Toronto Star

Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs introduced Craig Berube as the team’s 32nd head coach, signalling a new era in Maple Leafs’ hockey.

Berube spent the last five seasons as head coach of the St. Louis Blues. He won a Stanley Cup with them in 2019 and was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award that season. Toronto is hoping Berube can be the guy to lead the Leafs to their first Stanley Cup since 1967.

Fans can expect a lot from Craig Berube. Berube is what the Leafs need for the team—a new voice in the locker room and a hard-nosed coach.

Like his playing days, Berube focuses on defensive and physical play. During his time with the St. Louis Blues, he transitioned the Blues’ defence into a strong, hard-hitting squad that excelled in defensive play. Leafs’ fans can expect a similar approach, focusing on tightening up the defence, blocking shots, and playing a gritty, physical style of hockey—something that the Maple Leafs have lacked in recent years.

Accountability is vital for Berube. He holds everyone accountable and isn’t afraid to call out his best players.

Berube knows how to improve a team’s culture. He is a no-nonsense coach whose emphasis on team unity and work ethic could lead to a more cohesive and resilient Maple Leafs squad. This cultural change is what the team needs to overcome past playoff disappointments and build a winning mentality, as seen in his pre-game speech following the Blues’ Stanley Cup victory in 2019.

Players around the league greatly respect Berube following the Leafs’ hiring of him on Friday. St. Louis Blues defenceman Colton Parayko told Chris Johnston of TSN what Berube brought to the Blues as a head coach:” From a technical standpoint, like X’s and O’s, we didn’t really change a whole lot. He just came in and made sure that we put in the work and worked together. He got everybody to buy into their roles.” Says Parayko. 

Zac Rinaldo is a former NHL veteran who spent six seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He is now the head coach and assistant general manager for the Pelham Panthers of the GOJHL. Rinaldo had Berube as his head coach in Philadelphia from 2013 to 2015.

zac flyers
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

“he’s played the game before. He knows how to relate to the players, when to be buddy buddy, and when to be coach,” he said about what kind of culture he brings to a team. 

I asked Zac if he thinks Toronto is the right fit for Berube. “I think the players will need to get used to a total opposite-minded coach, but if players can buy into it, he will be the right fit,” he said.

Zac says Berube’s coaching style is “in-your-face hockey, forechecking hard, passionate style of coaching.” 

craig berube
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

With things like this being said about Berube, Maple Leafs fans will undoubtedly be excited about what will come during the 2024-25 season.

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