Insider Provides Glimpse Into Sheldon Keefe's Coaching Plan This Season

Published September 8, 2023 at 12h21
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It was a major surprise when Sheldon Keefe was given a multi year extension in Toronto. Now, an insider has revealed what he'll do to bring success with his new deal.

Keefe's Plan Revealed

While Keefe has brought an incredible amount of regular season success to the Leafs, it's no secret that he has lacked in the playoffs.

Insider and analyst Chris Johnston has now given his insight into Keefe's plan for this season:

Sheldon Keefe receiving a multi-year contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs was unexpected, to say the least. After the season ended the way it did for the Maple Leafs, I genuinely believed Sheldon Keefe would depart. However, not only is he still with the Maple Leafs, he's also been granted an extension by their new GM, Brad Treliving. Given the tumultuous summer, it's surprising to see Treliving at the helm. Siege, let's delve into this extension. What insights can you share? What's your take on Sheldon Keefe getting more years with the Leafs?

Well, if you were looking at the end of last year's playoffs, where the Leafs exited in the second round to Florida, with Keefe's position seemingly at risk, you'd think change was imminent. Typically, when teams want a shake-up, coaches are the first to go. But if you review Keefe's record, he boasts one of the best winning percentages of any current NHL head coach. He's achieved significant milestones, like reaching 100 wins quickly in the NHL history. His success speaks for itself. What's intriguing is that after Brad Treliving replaced Kyle Dubas in late May or early June, Keefe's future became uncertain. But after hours of meetings between Treliving and Keefe, Treliving decided to retain Keefe. And instead of letting Keefe enter what would have been the final year of his contract, they granted him a two-year extension. It's crucial to note that while this secures Keefe's salary, it doesn't guarantee his position.

Keefe's had significant success with the roster he had, especially given his history with Kyle Dubas, through their time in Sault Ste. Marie, with the Toronto Marlies, and the Maple Leafs. But now, with a change in management, it'll be interesting to see if and how Keefe adjusts his approach. Given the available options, retaining Keefe was logical. It provides stability for now, at least until circumstances dictate otherwise.

With the roster changes this offseason, like the addition of players like Ryan Reaves, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Max Domi, the team seems more aggressive. This mirrors the approach Treliving took in Calgary, valuing players who add a physical element to the game. While the Leafs had started to move in this direction under Dubas, they appear to be doubling down on this strategy under Treliving. However, there are still uncertainties. While I expect the Leafs to make the playoffs, their defensive lineup, especially with the addition of John Klingberg, remains a question.

Figuring out the defensive pairings will be a challenge for Keefe and his staff. The addition of Guy Boucher as an assistant coach, someone with more NHL head coaching experience than Keefe, is also noteworthy. Treliving highlighted that Keefe's desire to bring in Boucher reflects his confidence, dismissing concerns about potential optics. With many familiar faces but new strategies, it promises to be an intriguing season for Toronto.

Playoff Success?

All of this sounds great, but there are still questions around whether this will work when it really counts.

We sure hope it will!
September 8   |   995 answers
Insider Provides Glimpse Into Sheldon Keefe's Coaching Plan This Season

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