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Maple Leafs Betting Bank on Berube's One Shining Moment – Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

It's old news by now that the Toronto Maple Leafs fired Sheldon Keefe and hired Craig Berube to replace him. Any Maple Leafs fan who doesn't know this must be living under a rock.

However, we do not know how Berube's appointment will affect the team. There are a few things we do know. If we compare Berube's classic coaching style to Keefe's, we can conclude that the team will play a straight game. Berube said in his first press conference that it would be a straight, north/south match. From his past as a player and coach, we can also guess that there will be more emphasis on the visual and defensive side of things. Although he seems to have a good relationship with his former players, it is admitted that he wants to be accountable to his players.

Berube expressed his excitement about coaching a highly talented Maple Leafs team. We don't know how those top players will take to his tough training method. Time will tell how it all plays out.

A Deep Dive into Berube's NHL Coaching Career

Berube's first head coaching gig was with the team that signed him as a 20-year-old free agent out of the minors in 1986: the Philadelphia Flyers. In his first season behind the bench in 2013-14, the Flyers finished third in the Metropolitan Division with a 42-30-10 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs in a tough seven-game series in New York. The guards.

Related: 3 Players on Both Sides of Canadiens-Maple Leafs Rivalry

The following season, the Flyers dropped to sixth in their division with a 33-31-18 record. Berube was fired at the end of the 2014-15 season.

One Shining Time with the Blues: The 2019 Stanley Cup

Berube's next NHL head coaching job was with the St. Louis Blues. He was given the job on an interim basis after the Blues fired Mike Yeo on November 19, 2018. In his first 18 games behind the bench for St. Louis, the Blues had a dismal 7-10-1 record and were in last place in the 31-team NHL on Jan. 1, 2019.

The former coach of St. Louis Blues Craig Berube yells from the bench.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The next 14 months and 11 days will be a wild ride for the Blues and Berube. As of Jan. 1 through the end of the regular season, the Blues went 31-9-6, which was the best record of any team in the NHL since New Year's Day. St. Louis will move up from last in the Central Division to third.

In the 2019 postseason, the Blues went 16-10 in 26 games, defeating the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks, and Boston Bruins before lifting the Stanley Cup.

The Blues have carried the momentum from their winning streak into the 2019-20 season. In this pandemic-shortened season, they finished first in the Central and second in the NHL with a 42-19-10 record in 71 games.

Related: Craig Berube Impresses at Maple Leafs' Press Conference

Things went south quickly from that point for Berube and the Blues. They had a miserable postseason. The following figure is an oddity created by the strange format of the 2020 Playoffs. They went 2-7. While the teams that finished fifth through 12th participated in a “playoff” round, the top four teams in each conference played a three-game playoff to determine the next round. St. Louis lost all three round robin matches they played. They then lost in what would have been the first round of the mid-year four games to two to the Vancouver Canucks. Thus, their record is 2-7.

Berube's Blues Fall From Grace in the NHL

The following season, also shortened due to the pandemic, the Blues finished fourth in the West Division with a 27-20-9 record and lost to the Avalanche in four straight games in the first round of the playoffs.

The end of the pandemic saw the 2021-22 NHL season return to normal. The Blues finished third in the Central with a 49-22-11 record. They defeated the Minnesota Wild in Round 1 of the four-game postseason, but then lost to the Avalanche by a score of four games to two.

Louis Blues Doug Armstrong Jordan Binington Craig Berube Ryan O'Reilly
The general manager of St. Louis Blues Doug Armstrong, goaltender Jordan Binington, coach Craig Berube, and center Ryan O'Reilly are up for the 2019 NHL awards.
(AP Photo/John Locher)

The 2022-23 season saw the Blues drop to sixth place in the Central and exit the playoffs with a 37-38-7 record. After St. Louis started the 2023-24 season 13-14-1, they relieved Berube of his job as head coach.

Three Phases of Berube's NHL Coaching Career

We can divide Berube's NHL coaching career into three parts.

Part #1: Before Jan. 1, 2019

Regular Season

GP It wins Loss OT/SO Loss win %
179 82 68 29 .539%

Playoffs games

GP It wins To lose win %
7 3 4 .429%

Part #2: From January 1, 2019 to March 11, 2020

Regular Season

GP It wins Loss OT/SO Loss win %
134 80 38 16 .657%

Playoffs games

GP It wins Loss win %
26 16 10 .615%

Part #3: After March 11, 2020

Regular Season

GP It wins Loss OT/SO Loss win %
248 126 94 28 .564%

Playoffs games

GP It wins To lose win %
25 8 17 .320%

Combining Part #1 and Part #3, we get the following:

Regular Season

GP It wins Loss OT/SO Loss win %
427 208 162 57 .554%

Another thing to note is that it usually takes 95 to 97 points to make the playoffs. That equates to a winning percentage between .580% and .590%. Berube's overall winning percentage before and after the 14-month run between Jan. 1, 2019, and March 11, 2020, was less than what was needed to make the season.

Playoffs games

GP It wins Loss win %
32 11 21 .344%

Berube Had a Bad Postseason Win/Loss Record

With the exception of one Stanley Cup playoff game, Berube's win/loss record is a dismal .344%. By comparison, Keefe's playoff win/loss record in five seasons behind the Maple Leafs bench was 16-21 in 37 games, or a .432% winning percentage.

Related: Maple Leafs Nick Robertson: Overcoming Injury and Proving His Worth

Many other factors come into play for any coach on any NHL team. Although he may have a hand in the players who play, he cannot choose them himself. He has to play what the general manager provides him. It's safe to say that Keefe had far more talent to work with than Berube.

If we look at Berube's coaching career, we see two years of youth, 14 months of brilliance, and four more years of average success. It will be interesting to see what form Berube the Maple Leafs get. They bet him to the bank. Can he produce offspring?

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]
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