Toronto Maple Leafs Agree to Two-Year Extension with Head Coach Sheldon Keefe

The Toronto Maple Leafs are keeping their head coach for the next three years.

Head coach Sheldon Keefe has agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him as their bench boss through the 2025-26 season, as was confirmed by general manager Brad Treliving during his media availability following the news, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Keefe was entering the second year of his two-year extension that he signed back in 2021, and Treliving made the indication that he was in active talks with Keefe on an extension.

Keefe was promoted to the NHL after a successful four-year run with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, after the Leafs fired Mike Babcock before the American Thanksgiving of 2020. Ever since, he has accumulated the 6th-most wins in franchise history, with a 166-71-30 record, good for a .678 points percentage, first in NHL history among coaches with at least 250 games as a head coach.

Sheldon Keefe

The End of an Offseason of Question

There were questions raised about Keefe’s future after previous general manager Kyle Dubas’ contract was not renewed, leading to his departure for Pittsburgh. Treliving said that Keefe would be evaluated like the other members of the Leafs’ staff before a decision was reached on the new deal.

Of course, it didn’t look like a guarantee then. Keefe and Dubas worked with each other ever since the current Leafs head coach joined the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds as their head coach entering the 2012-13 season, starting his rise from the juniors all the way up to the NHL, where he currently is right now. But Treliving is backing Keefe.

“Since I’ve joined the Maple Leafs, I’ve been very impressed with Sheldon,” said Treliving. “He has shown great leadership skills with his staff and our players, and has a clear vision for this team and where it needs to go. Sheldon has established himself as one of the top coaches in the league and I look forward to working alongside him as we head into the upcoming season.”

Treliving has praised Keefe’s honesty and his willingness to take responsibility for their underwhelming playoff outings. With this, Toronto’s general manager is prioritizing playoff performance over regular season success. And this extension gives Keefe a test on how far Toronto will go in their quest for their first Stanley Cup since 1967, given his 13-17 playoff record is less than inspiring.

A New Situation for Sheldon Keefe

There may also be a further look into this considering that Treliving previously had a situation back when he was the Calgary Flames’ general manager with former Flames head coach Geoff Ward. Ward had his interim tag removed from the head coaching job after the 2019-20 season, but when things did not work out the next campaign, Treliving was quick to let him go after the Flames started 11-11-2 in 2020-21. It shows how Treliving can make decisive decisions, even if they are quick.

The other question is how Keefe will do without his close friend as his general manager, making things more interesting about his coaching performance. His players trust him, and Treliving also made positive comments about him, which should solidify a positive relationship all around. If Treliving knows the players support Keefe, his comments could mean a challenge for the team to win Lord Stanley’s finest hardware.

Nonetheless, this signing keeps the consistency the Leafs were needing after an offseason full of uncertainty. Toronto is aiming for a deeper run this time around, with a new-look lineup that has the likes of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, and Matthew Knies on the forwards, and John Klingberg added to the defense.

This time around, Keefe’s coaching staff is going to look different after Spencer Carbery left for the Washington Capitals’ head coaching job. Former Ottawa Senators head coach Guy Boucher and longtime St. Louis Blues assistant Mike Van Ryn have been brought in as assistant coaches. If Keefe were to get a third extension with Toronto, he will have to coach the team to at least a Conference Final.

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