At Craig Berube’s introductory press conference, GM Brad Treliving discussed the characteristics he was looking for in a head coach, the traits Berube brings to the table, and why Berube was the best fit for the job.

Opening Statement on the hiring of Craig Berube

Treliving: Thanks for joining us. I apologize for the Friday long weekend announcement at five o’clock. When everything comes together, we like to get our news out. That is when it happened to come together.

We are excited to formally announce and introduce Craig Berube.

To walk you through a short timeline of events here, it was almost two weeks ago or just under two weeks ago that we sat here in front of you at our year-end press conference. I said at that time that our top priority to find the next coach and a new coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Really, from that day forward, that is what I have immersed myself into. It has been a non-stop process over that time.

The first step was to identify a profile before we started to get out into the field, meet, and talk to candidates. It was about building a profile for the individual who we felt was going to be the best fit. That is really what we were looking for here—understanding what you have as an organization, what you feel is the best fit, and going and trying to find the individual who fits those characteristics.

After that, I met and talked with several individuals. I am not going to get into names and whatnot necessarily, but it was upward of nine individuals who I met with or spoke with. I had a chance to speak and meet with Craig during that time. I spent a lot of time with Craig.

As I went through the process with other individuals, it kept coming back to Craig. I look at Craig’s background, including his playing career. He has touched every step on the ladder in terms of where he sits now as a coach in the NHL. He was a long-time player with 1,000 games in the league. He was an assistant coach. He was a head coach in the American league and an an assistant coach in the NHL. Ultimately, he was a head coach in the National Hockey League.

I look at Craig as a long-time organizational man in the Philadelphia Flyers organization. To me, that is meaningful. Craig had been there and done every job in a rich-tradition franchise such as Philadelphia. Really, the first time he ventured out of that organization was to another organization, St. Louis, which I consider to be one of the more successful teams over the last decade. He won a championship there.

The homework you do on the people who worked with, worked for, and played for Craig — they talked about how they would go through a wall for him. There was the connection he had with his players, the accountability he had with his players, and the bond he was able to build with staff.

Ultimately, character matters. That is with your team, and that is, most importantly, with your head coach. I look at Craig, and ultimately, what brought me back to him was his leadership, his ability to build teams and have a team-first concept, his ability to connect with players, and his ability to hold people accountable.

It gives me great pleasure and honour to introduce the next head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Craig Berube.


You mentioned building a profile for a coach. What did that profile look like?

Treliving: I think I mentioned it when I came in here, but the importance of team… It sounds motherhood-ish — it sounds a little bit cliche — but you need everyone. It is not about one, two, three, four, or five people. It is about a team. It is about the Toronto Maple Leafs. The outside can use all kinds of catchy phrases about core fours, fives, and threes, but it is about a team, the ability to build a team, and the ability to connect with players.

Craig put it well. We all talk about accountability and the ability to hold people accountable and to push people. Those are really important things. At the end of the day, we are all watching [the NHL playoffs] right now, and it is really difficult, right? To be successful at this time of the year is very difficult. You have to be able to push people into uncomfortable positions and into uncomfortable things.

To me, you have to connect with people first. There has to be a partnership, a relationship, and a trust. That was part of the profile.

In a lot of ways, it’s [looking for] someone who can command respect. Presence is an important thing for me. You either have it or you don’t. Craig has it. When you really talk with people around the game — people I trust and know — his ability to teach… As one former teammate and coach of his said, he is quietly brilliant. He knows the tactical part of the game.

Those are all of the areas I think are really important. I certainly feel Craig touches all of those areas.

You mentioned getting the sense that players want to go through a wall for Craig. To tie it into the motivation of the players at crunch time and this year specifically, do you think motivation or the lack of it in key moments was a problem? Is that one of the main reasons why Craig is here now?

Treliving: When I talk about things I was looking for things that I think are important, please don’t insinuate that we didn’t have it before. I think Sheldon Keefe is a wonderful coach. I think he is a tremendous coach. He is going to do great things in this league. He is an even better person. Don’t take one for thinking that we didn’t have the other.

I just think it was time that we needed something different. We needed a different delivery and a different voice giving that delivery. As I said, Craig comes at it in a different way. I have been here a year, but I understand that we have been here as an organization for an number of years. You have to keep knocking on the door and knocking on the door. You find every different avenue — whether it is from a coaching standpoint, player personnel, or tactical — to push through that door.

As we started this process, I think we were really fortunate to have someone of Craig’s ability available. That doesn’t happen all the time. I just think he is a great match. He is just a perfect fit for the group and where we are at right now.

Virtually every coach says you are only as good as your goaltending. That said, who is and what is your goaltending? [Follow-up to Craig Berube’s answer to the question]

Treliving: As part of this process, you go through the roster of what we have right now, with Craig giving his thoughts and me giving my thoughts. But today is day one. We are going through the process of how we are building a team.

We are going to start digging in today. We have a staff to look at. Craig will have those discussions with the guys who are here. We’ll figure out where we go from there. Most importantly, we’ll dig right into our roster and start to get to work on that.

Craig referenced the talent on the roster as one of the big reasons he wanted to come here. Where do things stand with some of that talent? You have Mitch Marner with a possible extension or something else as of July 1st. There is John Tavares. Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi are UFAs and proved to be quite important in the playoffs. Where do things stand with that group of players?

Treliving: Great questions, and “we will see” is the answer. We haven’t gotten to that, really. From the day we last saw all of you, I went to work on the coaching search. That file has been all-encompassing until this past weekend.

We have our amateur scouts in town. We are going through our amateur scouting meetings yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We have our pro-scouting meetings at the end of the week. And then we will dig into our player personnel.

As I said at the year’s end, we will look at everything. We have some really good players, and we don’t want to lose sight of that. But now Craig and I will sit down and start to dig into all of the other areas—roster construction and those types of things. We have a busy summer ahead.

Brendan Shanahan: “First liners, fourth liners, Canadian guys and European guys, players who played different styles and had different backgrounds… They all came back to us with the same message: [Berube] is a great coach and a great person.”

There was a video making the rounds of you and Craig dropping the gloves during your playing days. What are your memories of playing against Craig, and what stands out to you about him as a coach?

Shanahan: I have seen that video. I remember. I probably had hundreds of fights in the NHL. Craig probably had more than 200 fights in the NHL. I remember that one in particular.

When I came in as an 18-year-old, I was playing in the bottom six, and I played a lot against Craig. I got put on the first line about halfway through my second year. I was doing really well on the first line. Craig came up to me in the middle of a game and said, “I guess you are not going to fight us guys anymore.” I said, “Let’s go.” At the end of the fight, I said, “He might have had it right. Maybe I should stop doing that.”

He was a competitor. You always knew he was on the ice. He has translated that to his career in coaching. We had more than that run-in throughout our careers. We had a Stanley Cup Final against each other later on in the ’90s. He was just a guy who played for a long time and played the same way for a long time. He was a great teammate.

Bringing it back to us searching for our next head coach, the more people you dug into and the more layers or information you got, the feedback was even more positive. It just felt like the things we were hoping for and the things that we saw were confirmed.

I thought it was interesting. Specifically with the players whom we reached out to who had played for him, it was first liners, it was fourth liners, Canadian guys and European guys, players who played different styles and had different backgrounds… They all came back to us with the same message: He is a great coach and a great person. As Brad said, “I would go through a wall for the guy.”

As we went through the interview process, it was impressive what we learned more and more about Craig.