REPORT: Maple Leafs Players Gets Brutally Honest on their Feelings with Craig Berube as New Coach…

Why Maple Leafs Players Are Excited About Craig Berube as Their Coach…

Craig Berube is known for his old-school, no-nonsense approach to coaching, which has made an immediate impression on the Toronto Maple Leafs players.

One notable incident that highlighted Berube’s entry into the Toronto spotlight was when a fan photographed him having coffee with Mitch Marner, and the photo quickly spread on social media. Berube, however, wasn’t fazed by the attention. “It’s not surprising at all,” he said. “To be honest with you, I’d forgotten about it already. There’s nothing I can do about it. I’m focused on talking to the player. That’s it. Things happen.”

Berube’s familiarity with Toronto dates back to his half-season with the Leafs during the 1991-92 campaign, part of his extensive 1,054-game playing career. Reflecting on that time, he said, “I got a good feel back then for it. And I loved playing here for a short time. I’m really looking forward to coaching here. I mean, it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs, an Original Six team, the fan base. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

When Berube met Marner, there were rampant rumors about Marner being traded, fueled by the fan base’s frustration over another early playoff exit. Despite this, Berube focused on building a relationship with his players. “(Marner is) a character guy,” Berube said. “He’s a great person. Obviously, a great player. I’m looking forward to coaching him.”

This offseason, the Maple Leafs made several roster changes, including adding defensemen Chris Tanev, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Jani Hakanpää, as well as goalie Anthony Stolarz. However, the most significant changes occurred behind the bench with Berube’s arrival. Known as “Chief” in reference to his First Nations heritage, Berube brings a demanding, tough-love style to his coaching.

Leafs forward Max Domi expressed his enthusiasm for Berube’s leadership. “I’m over the moon about Chief. He’s going to help this team get over the hump,” Domi said. “And I’m looking forward to helping to do that. We’re really lucky to have him and can’t wait to get to work with him.”

Domi’s father, Tie, had a history of on-ice altercations with Berube during their playing days, an era known for its rough-and-tumble nature. “A guy that played as long as he did, in the era he did, that’s the kind of person I want to learn from,” Max Domi added. “I’ve spent some time with him and had a talk with him. This is someone that I’ve looked up to for a long time, a guy that I can learn a lot from, and has the same values as my dad has. I’ve been learning from guys like that my whole life.”

Additionally, there were other coaching changes. Guy Boucher, Dean Chynoweth, and Manny Malhotra left, making way for Lane Lambert and Marc Savard. Savard, who previously coached with Berube in St. Louis and ran Calgary’s power play last season, will oversee the Leafs’ power play. Berube has confidence in Savard’s abilities, noting their successful stint together in St. Louis where the Blues’ power play ranked third in the NHL at 24.3 percent.

Berube is particularly excited about the addition of Tanev, a defenseman known for his dedication and self-sacrifice. “He gives you everything he’s got,” Berube said. “Team guy. Lays it on the line every night.” Berube’s personal outreach to Tanev after acquiring his negotiating rights from Dallas likely influenced Tanev’s decision to sign with Toronto.

Tanev, a Stanley Cup champion, appreciated Berube’s high expectations and winning philosophy. “He wants to bring a philosophy and approach to the game that’s suited to winning hockey games. That’s extremely important to me as well,” Tanev said.

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