Friedman: Craig Berube, Todd McLellan reportedly frontrunners for Leafs’ head coaching gig

Photo credit:© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
In a move that shocked nobody, the Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Sheldon Keefe last Thursday after five years with the team. Whether he was at fault for the Leafs’ latest early playoff exit is up for debate, but at some point, you can’t ignore results – one round win in five years isn’t good enough (unless you’re Brendan Shanahan).
With Keefe on his way out of Toronto, the Leafs are already in pursuit of their new bench boss. While they’re not going to rush the process, there’s certainly a sense of urgency that will likely see the new guy named sooner rather than later. Craig Berube has been floating around as a contender since midway through this past season when he was fired by the St. Louis Blues, and according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, former Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan has joined him as a frontrunner for the job.
“Craig Berube was in Toronto on Saturday from what I understand.” Friedman said. “Thanks to internet sleuths in Los Angeles, we know that Todd McLellan was flying from LAX to Toronto, so we all assume he’s interviewing Monday. We’ll see if this goes any deeper, who else might get a call here. I wondered about Gerard Gallant, because he seems like a Treliving guy, but that’s just me talking. We’ll just see how deep this goes. There was a time I thought Berube was going to have an offer to coach the Devils, I’m not as certain about that now.”
Berube took over as St. Louis Blues head coach in mid-November 2018 after the Blues fired then-head coach Mike Yeo. Under the “interim coach” tag, the Blues caught fire thanks to both he and the out-of-nowhere emergence of goaltender Jordan Binnington, who came up from the minors and ended up winning all 16 games en route to the Cup, an NHL record for a rookie goaltender. By the time of his firing, Berube had a Cup win, two first-round losses, a second-round loss, and a missed playoff berth under his belt. He had two years of NHL head coaching experience before the Blues tenure, spending two seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers between 2013-2015.
McLellan, on the other hand, was fired by the Los Angeles Kings in his fifth season as their bench boss. He has the heftier resume as a head coach, with 16 and a half years and nine playoff appearances of experience, but he doesn’t have the recency bias of a Stanley Cup. His best stretch as a coach came at the start of his career when he coached the San Jose Sharks to six straight playoff appearances including two trips to the Conference Final.  The Kings let him go after losing 14 of his final 17 games as head coach.
The search for a head coach will continue into this week, with the Leafs’ plans beyond the Berube and McLellan interviews appearing unknown.

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