Maple Leafs hire former Stanley Cup winner as coach

The Toronto Maple Leafs are hiring a former Stanley Cup winner to try to end the NHL’s longest active championship drought.

The Maple Leafs announced the hiring of Craig Berube as the franchise’s 32nd coach on Friday and said he would be officially introduced on Tuesday.

Berube is replacing Sheldon Keefe, who was fired on May 9 after a fifth consecutive early playoff exit. Berube was fired in December during his sixth season with the St. Louis Blues.

The big appeal of Berube is that he won a Stanley Cup championship with the Blues in 2019. He’s also very demanding, important on a team that’s loaded with top-end talent but has won only one playoff round since 2004.

Berube went 206-132-44 with the Blues and 75-58-28 during two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was named a finalist for coach of the year in 2018-19 after taking the Blues from last place to a title as a midseason replacement.

The Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967.

NHL coaching carousel

With Berube’s hiring, four NHL teams (Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks and Seattle Kraken) have coach openings. The Los Angeles Kings, who fired Todd McLellan during the season, are also looking for a permanent replacement.

The Buffalo Sabres (Lindy Ruff), Ottawa Senators (Travis Green) and St. Louis Blues (Drew Bannister had his interim tag removed) joined the Maple Leafs in filling their openings.

The just-ousted Carolina Hurricanes and coach Rod Brind’Amour need to negotiate a new deal.

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