St. Louis Blues: What Are the Expectations for Craig Berube as Toronto's Head Coach?

The Blues' former bench boss starts a 4 year deal with the Leafs in 2024/25 after being let go by St. Louis midway through the 2023/24 season
St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks
St. Louis Blues v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages

It's been over a week since the Toronto Maple Leafs hired former St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube after the team let him go in December. The 58-year-old Calahoo, Alberta native, replaces Toronto's fired head coach, Sheldon Keefe, who had coached Toronto from 2019 until then.

Former St. Louis Blues Head Coach Craig Berube will be tested

Berube brings a 281-190-72 career coaching record, two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013/14 and 2014/15, as well as 6.5 seasons with the Blues from 2018/19, where he helped the team win its only Stanley Cup championship to date, and then from there to the middle of 2023/24. Berube is also a 17-year NHL veteran, splitting time with the Flyers, Capitals, Flames, Leafs, and Islanders during his 1054 games played, totaling 61 goals, 98 assists, and 159 points. Obviously, his coaching record is considerably better than his playing days. And Toronto is in desperate need of a coach with a consistent coaching record after yet another failed postseason run that saw their championship drought stretch to a still stand-alone record of 57 seasons.

2023/24 saw Berube finish out a lackluster tenure with the Blues holding a 13-14-1 record at the time he was let go. Toronto had another stellar regular season, but even with Auston Matthews' 69 goals and 100 points garnered in the standings, the Leafs once again bowed out in the 1st round to rival Boston, the 3rd time in 4 seasons Toronto has suffered that kind of exit. The Leafs have several players potentially hitting the free agency market this July, so recalibrating their team is a top priority during this offseason. To name a few, wingers Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, defensemen TJ Brodie, Joel Edmundson, Mark Giordano, and Ilya Lyubushkin, plus goalie Ilya Samsonov each can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. But the bright side already for the Leafs is that Toronto GM Brad Treliving says Berube can command respect from his players, even the ones that may not be in Toronto for much longer. This may be indicative for the Blues as well, given Drew Bannister's penchant for mentoring his own players. Toronto still has plenty of those, so Berube may find his 3rd NHL coaching job not too pressurizing.

Berube himself has said that he wants things to be all about the team and not just certain players, which is what the Leafs have done since hiring Treliving back in 2019, when they first hired Keefe. The Leafs want to be a team that doesn't just focus on a "core four," especially since they're somewhat entering another rebuild, their first in quite some time. Whether or not his tenure in Toronto leads to the Leafs making another 2nd round appearance in 2024/25 or even further is still too early to tell. But with the extensive playing and coaching record Berube has, Toronto may be due for a quick resurgence come this October.