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Toronto Maple Leafs hire Craig Berube as coach, hoping veteran can turn around long-term playoff woes

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Arizona Coyotes

TORONTO (AP) — The Toronto Maple Leafs have been hired Craig Berube as their coach on Friday, bringing in someone with Stanley Cup-winning experience to try to help the storied franchise end the NHL’s longest championship drought.

Berubé coached the St. Louis Blues to the Cup in 2019. The Maple Leafs haven’t won since 1967, when the league had just six teams.

Toronto president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Brad Treliving moved quickly to hire Berube to replace Sheldon Keefe. who was fired after another early exit from the play-offs. The Leafs lost in the first round for the fourth time in five years under Keefe, a stretch in which they won just one series.

Berube, 58, led the Blues to the playoffs five times in seven seasons, winning five series. The Blues, who promoted Berube mid-season on their way to winning the only title in franchise history, fired him in December. He has done TV work at TNT in the United States.

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Toronto is the third NHL head coaching job for the Calahoo, Alberta, including two seasons with Philadelphia (2013-15). He is the third coach for the Maple Leafs since the team assembled its core group of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares, following Keefe and Mike Babcock.

Berube, who is affectionately known as ‘Chief’ because he is of First Nations descent, moved into coaching after playing 1,143 games in the league from 1987 to 2003. That included half a season with the Leafs in 1991-92 before being dealt to Calgary in the nine-player trade that sent Doug Gilmour to Toronto.

The team posted on social media photos of Berube in a Toronto uniform with the message: “Welcome back coach.” He will be introduced at a press conference on Tuesday.

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