Toronto Maple Leafs: No, Sheldon Keefe Is Not on the “Hot Seat”

Head coach Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Head coach Sheldon Keefe of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

With the Toronto Maple Leafs continued playoff struggles, some believe there is a possibility of a coaching change this season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs will embark on a new season in just a few weeks. There is great anticipation surrounding the team. Along with that excitement comes expectations, specifically on the club’s coaching staff.

With the Maple Leafs unable to reach the second round, the fanbase has become restless. This puts added pressure on everyone in the organization, especially their head coach, Sheldon Keefe. That’s why Adam Gretz of NBC Sports recently wrote that the Maple Leafs’ bench boss’s job could be in jeopardy this season.

Gretz explained that Keefe isn’t quite on the hot seat but it is “getting warmer, ” which is  a huge stretch, considering he is about to enter the first full season of his tenure.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Sheldon Keefe

It’s difficult to imagine a scenario that would see GM Kyle Dubas giving Keefe the axe this year.  It’s difficult to image that anyone would even considering it, given the Leafs regular season record under Sheldon Keefe.

Sure, we all want more playoff success, but what could Keefe have done differently against Columbus? They set a modern day NHL record for 5v5 save percentage in that series, and had two different goalies each go on a 50-save streak.

The Leafs probably should have beaten Montreal, but without John Tavares and Jake Muzzin it isn’t fair to blame the coach.  In fact, a if you wanted to be fair about it, you might point out that under Keefe the Leafs have 11 straight playoff games where they finished with a positive expected-goals rating, which means he’s got his team performing well.  There just isn’t much a coach can do to make Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner score when they’re not doing it.

Unless the team severely underperforms. If the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves near the bottom of the standings in December, there’s no doubt that the conversation about replacements will be had both online by fans and critics and in the boardroom by team executives.  But right now, it’s ridiculous.

While fans will undoubtedly suggest coaching replacements throughout the season, Keefe deserves the opportunity to continue coaching the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has earned it since taking over for Mike Babcock. Keefe led the team to first place in the division last season. They were also without their captain for the majority of the playoffs when they were bounced by the surging Montreal Canadiens. While Keefe’s coaching seat may warm up at some point this season, currently, it should be nice and cool.

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Keefe has been a solid coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hopefully, he and the team will achieve their desired success. That would finally put this debate to bed for good.