These are Toronto’s dream picks for the next Maple Leafs head coach

It’s that unfortunate time of year when Leafs fans hang their jerseys back up in the closet, and players trade sticks for clubs as they hit the golf course during the off-season. The Toronto Maple Leafs lost a heart-crushing game seven against our arch-rival Boston Bruins just a few days ago. A 2-1 defeat in overtime didn’t just signify the end of the Leafs season, but also the conclusion of Sheldon Keefe’s tenure as head coach. 

Keefe was at the helm for five seasons, watching his team bow out of the playoffs in the first round four times. The club as a whole has seen this story unfold seven times over the last eight years, which has forced head office to consider breaking up their core four of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares. In the meantime, sports pundits and fans have had fun speculating who could replace Keefe as head coach — from fictional stars to celebrities. Here are five names that the Leafs should consider for the role next year.

1. Craig Berube

Courtesy Michael Miller/Wikimedia Commmons

The most serious of all candidates for Keefe’s former role is Craig Berube, former St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers frontman. He boasts a 281-190-72 record in the regular season and 27-31 in the playoffs, along with a demeanor that Leafs fans seem to favour. In 2019, his Blues beat out the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, proving that he’s capable of winning when it comes down to the wire. Further, he’s shown an ability to manage star personalities and foster a strong work ethic with a hounding forecheck. Both of those elements seem to be weak points for Leafs players, making him a hopeful and robust contender for head coach. 

2. Todd McLellan

Courtesy Robrovsky/Wikimedia Commons

The Saskatoon native brings more to the Leafs than just experience. He’s stood behind the bench for more than 1,000 NHL games across San Jose, Los Angeles and Edmonton, accruing a record of 598-412-134. His biggest success came with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau at the Sharks, making it to the conference finals following a division win. He then managed the talents of Connor McDavid and Anze Kopitar at each of the remaining teams, proving he has a knack for controlling stars. Though he hasn’t spent time in the finals, McLellan’s apparent experience makes him a contender for the job.  

3. Ted Lasso (assisted by Roy Kent)

Courtesy Apple TV+

Now that’s a dream combination for the Leafs. Ted Lasso, from his namesake show, played by Jason Sudeikis, took AFC Richmond to new heights across the show’s three seasons. Placing second in England’s Premier League is no easy feat, and he did so whilst changing locker room dynamics and subduing Jamie Tartt’s ego. Assisted by Roy Kent, played by Brett Goldstein, the pair could act as a good cop-bad cop in attempts to take the Leafs beyond the first round. Lasso has shown the ability to persevere and learn new sports — after all, he moved to the U.K. thinking he would be coaching what we call football. 

4. Shoresy

Courtesy Bell Media

If the Leafs are looking for someone with an inherent fire — who will probably get fined from chirping behind the bench, and get players fighting more — then look no further than Shoresy. Played by Jared Keeso in his character’s namesake show, Shoresy may not have the same tactical mind as Lasso but will be sure to keep players in check around the locker room. And hey, it would be quite entertaining to watch him get the crowd going from behind the bench. 

5. Justin Bieber 

Justin Bieber sports one of the Drew House jersey designs. @drewhouse/Instagram

Following the news of his wife Hailey Bieber being pregnant, fans might question his ability to commit to the team. However, the pop star is a home-grown talent who knows a thing or two about the Leafs. Having watched his favourite team lose his whole life, and considering his relationship with players in the locker room, Bieber makes a strong option for Leafs head coach due to his hockey IQ and friendly approach to control stars. And it goes without saying, but the Drew and Leafs jersey collabs would be very cool.