The problem with the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching situation

Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs decided to not bring back Kyle Dubas as General Manager in May, and since then the team has been focused on entering a new era of Leafs hockey. Brad Treliving is now the General Manager of the team, and the organization is focused on building the most competitive team possible, one important part of the team is the coaching staff.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Brad Treliving confirmed Sheldon Keefe would be back next season as head coach, with an extension to come at some point this summer. One big question mark for the Leafs the past month was the coaching staff.

Was Keefe going to be brought back under the new GM or was the organization going to bring in someone new? While there are some advantages to bringing back Keefe, I do think there is a problem that comes with it.

The problem with the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching situation

Sheldon Keefe is Kyle Dubas’s guy. Keefe won a championship as head coach of the Toronto Marlies before taking over for Mike Babcock at the NHL level during the 2019-20 season. So far he  has coached 267 NHL games and has a record of 166-71-30 good enough for a .678 point percentage over the past four seasons.

You can check out Keefe’s full coaching record below:

Career coaching record
Regular SeasonPlayoffs

Provided by View Original Table
Generated 6/28/2023.

This is something we have seen many times in the past. Different NHL teams will bring in a general manager, but make the GM keep the coach in place, even though that GM did not hire that person. While that can work, it also gives the general manager an extra level of security when things do not work to just say, hey this was not the guy I hired.

Mike Babcock remained with the team for two seasons under Kyle Dubas, then once the team struggled Dubas was able to make a move to bring in Keefe, someone he wanted to put in the head coaching spot. If Treliving has someone who he wants to coach the team, he should just bring them in now, that way everyone can skip out on the move happening in a year or two after a bad stretch of games or another first round exit.

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Sheldon Keefe is a great coach. He has an excellent coaching record and is definitely someone that the Leafs roster likes playing for. However, that does not change the fact that Brad Treliving did not hire him. The Leafs can run it back with Sheldon Keefe, but in doing so, that gives Treliving a scapegoat if something goes wrong down the line.