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NHL Notebook: Maple Leafs name Craig Berube head coach

Toronto Maple Leafs Craig Berube
Photo credit:Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have hired their 32nd head coach in history, 2019 Stanley Cup Champion Craig Berube.

His hiring comes just eight days after the club fired Sheldon Keefe after being eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Now, Berube, who has coached 543 games behind the bench of the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Blues, the latter of whom fired him in December after a 13-14-1 start, will look to push the Maple Leafs over the top. Having spent nearly two decades on AHL and NHL benches, Berube will undoubtedly have a tough task ahead of him.
The Maple Leafs have made it out of the first round just once since 2004, last year, when they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. They didn’t get much farther, falling to the Florida Panthers in five games.
Berube joined the Blues in 2017 as an associate coach, and in his second year with the team, he was named interim head coach on Nov. 20, 2018, after then-head coach Mike Yeo was fired following a 7-9-3 start. The Blues had a strong rest of the season, going 38-19-6 under Berube, finishing second in the Central Division.
Come the playoffs, they had long series’ enroute to a Stanley Cup title, beating the Winnipeg Jets in six games, the Dallas Stars in seven, the San Jose Sharks in six and the Boston Bruins in seven games.
Here’s more on Berube from Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin:
Berube spent parts of six seasons behind the Blues bench, compiling 206-132-44 record and .597 points percentage. Previously, he coached the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013-14 and 2014-15, going 75-58-28 (.553).
Berube also spent 17 years in the NHL as a player, functioning primarily as an enforcer, compiling 159 points and 3,149 penalty minutes across 1,054 games. His playing career include a 40-game stop in Toronto in 1991-92. He was shipped to the Calgary Flames partway through that season as a piece of the blockbuster trade that brought Doug Gilmour to Toronto.
The Leafs are hoping Berube’s playoff coaching pedigree helps their star-studded roster break through after losing in the first round seven times in eight seasons of the Auston Matthews/Mitch Marner era. The Leafs have won a single playoff series and have gone 0-6 in do-or-die games during that time. Across Berube’s tenure in St. Louis, the Blues won five playoff series and two Game 7s.

Rangers look dangerous

The New York Rangers eliminated the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night, overcoming a 3-0 deficit to win 5-3. A Chris Kreider natural hat trick in the third period helped bring them one step closer to a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
And on Friday’s edition of Daily Faceoff Live, Tyler Yaremchuk and Frank Seravalli talked about how good the Rangers look:
Tyler Yaremchuk: I was watching the third period of last night’s game and thought, “It’s 3-0 Hurricanes, we’re getting a seventh game,” then as I’m watching, the cheers in the bar got louder and louder. People were excited to see the comeback effort from the Rangers, led by Chris Kreider’s fifth, sixth and seventh goals of the postseason, coming just nine minutes apart for the rare natural hat trick. Kreider was clutch and the Rangers are moving on.
I said Thursday, and I was wrong in saying this, is it going to be an Igor Shesterkin-steal-it-or-nothing moment. You said I was wrong not giving the Rangers credit, and you were right! That offense put the pedal to the metal in the third period.
Frank Seravalli: They’re a really good team. They battle, and now if you were to size up them with the Florida Panthers and ask who has the edge, I think the Rangers are slightly more skilled, the Panthers are slightly bigger and more physical, the Rangers have the better backend and goalie, although Sergei Bobrovsky’s been good.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: the point being, this Rangers team is a force to be reckoned with. They were a team that won the Presidents’ Trophy, and people wondered how realistic their Stanley Cup chances were. But they’ve had some late-game magic to them that makes them captivating to watch, and they’re going to be a handful for whoever they play in the Eastern Conference Final.
Peter Laviolette’s teams win in the postseason. There’s something to the magic he’s able to create, and they’ve got a little bit of that in them.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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