Management Is the Maple Leafs Problem - Sheldon Keefe Deserves One More Shot

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Not Fire Sheldon Keefe
Toronto Maple Leafs Should Not Fire Sheldon Keefe / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Despite another first-round flameout, the Toronto Maple Leafs should refrain from firing Sheldon Keefe.

If you had asked me a week ago when the Leafs were down 3-1 after the Bruins, I would have said the opposite, but games five, six, and seven completely changed my mind.

Going into the playoffs, all you could criticise Keefe for were some late-game decisions that, in hindsight, would have been meaningless as there was such a wide gap between the Leafs and Bruins for the second spot in the Atlantic Division and some knit-picky lineup and line choices that we often overreacted to throughout the season.

Ultimately, it wouldn’t matter who Keefe put in the lineup or who Keefe played with whom. The 2023-2024 Toronto Maple Leafs were a flawed hockey team.

Toronto Maple Leafs Should Not Fire Sheldon Keefe

I know it’s hard to argue that a coach who had Auston Matthews, the NHL’s leading goal scorer, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and Morgan Reilly, who were all all-stars, was put in a tough spot.

But that is what happened. Let's start with the obvious. Sheldon Keefe could not control William Nylander, who missed the series' first three games against the Bruins. In the same way, he could not control Auston Matthews, missing games five and six of the series. It's the same story with Joseph Woll in game seven.

People may argue he should have gone to Woll earlier, which I agreed with until we saw Woll reinjure himself. We can criticize Keefe for leaving Samsonov in too long, but Keefe must have known Woll's ankle was not ready for a starter's workload yet and was using him as a last-ditch effort to change the momentum in the series.

In addition, Sheldon Keefe could not consistently build a competitive game plan when he was given one of the worst puck-moving defensive groups in the NHL, the worst teams that made the playoffs. The Maple Leafs gave the puck away third most of any team and iced the puck eighth most of any team. The front office tried to solve this by bringing in Ilya Lybushkin and Joel Edmundson, two abysmal puck-movers that added to the Leafs issues down the stretch.  In games five

Regarding the front office, Treliving's failure to bring in goaltending help at the trade deadline is even more unbelievable now that we know Woll was not 100%.

Samsonov was statistically the worst goalie for the season's first three months. Treliving himself put him on waivers, giving 31 other teams the option to pick him up. Nobody did, which made me think Samsonov was just not good enough. But after that, Trevling thought it was an excellent idea to let him be the starting goalie in the NHL playoffs

You can only criticise Keefe for getting these players to go 100% night in and night out, but that has been a problem with the Maple Leafs with past coaches. Games five, six and seven showed me that this team still responds to Keefe’s messages.


They played the most structured they ever have and never gave up in that series. Sheldon Keefe deserves another shot with a competitive goaltender. The Toronto Maple Leafs change needs to start in the front office.