Is It Time for the Maple Leafs to Move On From Sheldon Keefe?

Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe behind the bench.
Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe behind the bench. Photo Credit: NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had an up-and-down start to the 2023-24 season. With flashes of brilliance from Auston Matthews and William Nylander, there’s also been some serious regression from the Maple Leafs starting goaltender. Inconsistency is certainly an issue for the blue and white this season, which has many fans across the nation asking, is Sheldon Keefe the right coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs? 

As much as I disagree with some of his moves, there’s no denying Sheldon Keefe is a good coach. You don’t magically go 183-80-36 through your first 300 games behind the bench without knowing what you’re doing. Yes, the roster Sheldon Keefe inherited was stacked with star talent, but Sheldon found ways to make the pieces fit.

Sheldon Keefe has done an admirable job since he took over the position. However, I’m starting to wonder if his time with the Maple Leafs is ending. Not because I don’t believe in Sheldon, but because of the drastic changes we saw over the offseason.

Sheldon Keefe was Kyle Dubas’ guy. When Kyle Dubas brought in Sheldon Keefe, we started to really see the philosophy upon how Kyle Dubas envisioned this team. However, with Kyle Dubas now in Pittsburgh and Sheldon Keefe still here in Toronto, I’m struggling to see that same consistency we saw from the Maple Leafs over the Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe era.

That era wasn’t perfect; believe me, there’s a lot I can go back upon to see why things didn’t work. However, Sheldon Keefe’s unique system only works with the proper personnel. As much as I liked what Brad Treliving did in the summer, there’s no denying Brad brought in players who don’t necessarily fit the mold of a Sheldon Keefe system.

From what I’ve seen this season, it’s clear Sheldon Keefe isn’t fond of his bottom-six. Routinely throwing out his fourth line after a goal against isn’t a new trend for Sheldon. This has been something Sheldon Keefe has done throughout his tenure in Toronto, trusting his bottom six to play solid “defensive hockey” while his stars aren’t on the ice.

When the Maple Leafs brought in Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, and Ryan Reaves, it was clear Brad Treliving was sacrificing the overall team defense for more offense. 

It’s hard to blame Brad for that after the offense ran out of gas in last year’s postseason, but Sheldon Keefe is still yet to find the right blend with this group since the changes. Obviously, Sheldon Keefe likes to role all four lines, but so far, with the poor play from the bottom-six, it’s made things extremely difficult.

Kyle Dubas clearly focused on skating and mobility when adding players over his tenure in Toronto. With Sheldon Keefe using a system that uses a lot of man-on-man coverage, mobility, and depth throughout the lineup is crucial.

Depth defensemen like Willam Lagesson and Simon Benoit have done really well this year, given their role, which is a credit to both Sheldon Keefe and Brad Treliving. However, the overall defensive play from the Maple Leafs this year is nowhere near what it was last season. Given the structure of this team, that seriously concerns me.

It’s one of the most difficult topics in hockey, should a coach lose his job over underwhelming performances despite his resume, there’s nothing I’ve seen so far this season that gives me reason to believe they are one move away. 

I’m starting to think Brad Treliving needs his own guy. Someone who shares a similar vision of how this team can be successful. I’m sure Sheldon Keefe and Brad Treliving have a great relationship, but I just question the mix at the moment. 

Hopefully, things will work out soon because with how tight the Atlantic Division is, the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t afford to just keep kicking away points. The blue and white will be back in action on Tuesday as they take on the Los Angeles Kings.

Thanks for reading. For more hockey content, follow me on Twitter at ITR_Anselmo.

Thank You ARI for the 65 Goal Scorer Leafs Late Night

WELCOME BACK TO LEAFS LATE NIGHT! Presented by Inside The RinkRoscoe / Suthy / Biehner / Darty Brodeur- Vibe Check- Darty Drops In- 4 Line, Bangin- *65* Goals- Last Ditch in the DesertNEW MERCH IS AVAILABLE!JOIN OUR DISCORD!Remember to follow us on Twitter @LeafsLateNight & IG @LeafsLateNightCheck out Mike, Josh, and Nathan's articles on the Leafs + many more! insidetherink.comHow to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. Thank You ARI for the 65 Goal Scorer
  2. Squashington Napitals
  3. Challenging Coaches and Coaches' Challenges
  4. If Refs Could Turn Back Time
  5. The Art of The Deadline

Joshua Anselmo

A hockey mind that's always looking at new and insightful ways to bring different perspectives of the game we all love.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion: This Season Showed Daniel Brière Can Be Trusted

This season was one for the books for the Philadelphia Flyers. Moments fell on a spectrum of multiple ups and downs. They carried out two five-game win streaks. A prospect refused to sign. Ivan Fedotov arrived in America and touched NHL ice. A goalie controversy that thrusted Sam Ersson into the spotlight. Owen Tippett blew […]

Read More

Winnipeg Whiteout Facing Colorado Low in Playoff Opener (QF: Game 1)

It’s time for playoff hockey! The Winnipeg Jets take flight tonight to face the Colorado Avalanche at the Canada Life Centre in game one of the 2024 NHL Stanley Cup Quarterfinals. See how your Winnipeg Jets shape up tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. Details for Tonight’s Game TV: SportsnetRadio: 680 CJOBWestern Conference Quarterfinals Game One: […]

Read More

Golden Knights vs. Dallas Stars: Finding Value and a Lock in Series Props

It is playoff time! The only thing better than celebrating a Vegas Golden Knights victory is heading to the window after the game to cash a ticket! Here’s a list of betting props from DraftKings Sportsbook that I like. Series Winner, Golden Knights, +120 This is bizarre, and also a homer pick. I can not […]

Read More