Kris Versteeg as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Former Maple Leaf Suggests Getting Rid of This One Person Will Fix all Their Problems

Published January 17, 2024 at 4:41 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had their problems in 2023-24, and with their stars not able to help them out of some tough games lately, something will need to change.

Former Leaf Kris Versteeg has an idea of what should change


While the upcoming trade deadline gives Toronto an opportunity to upgrade on the blue line or in net, former Toronto Maple Leaf Kris Versteeg believes removing one person could fix some of their issues;

"Look at the start of the year - all of the lucky wins or comebacks. This is just basically a levelling off of where you've been playing this entire season. Everyone's like 'ah they're not winning'... Yeah, well they shouldn't have been winning at the start of the season. They just have superstars that can win you games outright, and you need superstars to win games, but - you know, I listen to the media, 'yeah, that's not the coaching...' it IS the coaching. It IS the coaching and it IS the players - it's both. But when the coaching is the same year after year after year, this is what you get. The numbers will eventually lead you to where you're going.

What did I say when [the Oilers] needed a coaching change. They need a coaching change. Yes, the numbers, at some point, were going to turn for them eventually, but to get to where they're going now, they would not be here if Woodcroft was still their coach. Zero chance. Zero chance. So again, structurally, [the Leafs] need a change. Details, they need a change. But the numbers now, these 4 losses are just accumulating because of where they should have been at the start of the year. They should have never been in the playoff race, to be honest, with the way they were playing. It's just Willy was playing out of his mind, Matthews was scoring big goals and they're here because of those guys. Now, they've relied on them way too much and other guys on their team don't even know which way is up anymore.

Back to Keefe, as a coach - he's a great coach, he's done good things, but when you can't get past letting a guy like - I was at the game against the Avalanche... Domi was the best player on the ice. I'm not saying Domi is the end-all, be-all either... but he was the best player on the ice and he finished with 10 minutes - 10 and a half minutes. If you don't like the player, even when he's playing good, you damn well better play him to win a game. You better get past your pride and whatever ego it is to play that player to get you a W in a win league when you're in the biggest market in hockey.

He can't get past it... he can't inflate other guys to excel the hockey club and it's a problem. The details have sucked. The details are horrendous... this is hockey fundamentals at the end of the day. Get the puck out, 2 minutes left, I don't care. Block a shot with your face. It doesn't matter. These guys don't even understand hockey fundamentals at the biggest times of games, like 'what do we need to do at this time of the game?'... guys don't know where they're going. Yeah, they're not the best blueline, but guys don't know where they're going, and especially when you-know-what hits the fan, you better have a structure in place that helps you in those moments.

How many more years do these guys have in their prime?... They can't go out and trade all their assets and keep Keefe. Even if you trade assets to bring a guy in, you can't even trust that he's going to play the guy."

This is a sentiment that is seemingly shared throughout the media, as many fans all over social media believe moving on from Keefe is the right move to make, especially after blowing so many leads as of late.

Are Toronto still Stanley Cup contenders?

All throughout the year, this forward group has been solid, and are good enough to contend when the playoffs roll around, but right now, it appears as though a simple coaching change won't be enough, as this team has too many issues on the back end.

Versteeg mentions the Oilers as a template to move on from their coach and go onto success, and at this point, the Maple Leafs may have nothing to lose, as a new Head Coach could spark this team in a way that Sheldon Keefe quite simply can't.

Ultimately, the Leafs have got some issues, but if they bring in a new coach to spark the team, things could turn and allow them to make some big moves at the trade deadline, but if they stand pat, this is a team that may miss the playoffs altogether.

As Read on Maple Leafs Daily - Ex-Leaf says there's only one way to fix this team and it involves getting rid of one person
January 17   |   1370 answers
Former Maple Leaf Suggests Getting Rid of This One Person Will Fix all Their Problems

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