Maple Leafs Fire Head Coach Sheldon Keefe

by | May 9, 2024 | News, NHL | 20 comments The Toronto Maple Leafs announced head coach Sheldon Keefe was fired. No replacement was named.

Keefe went on social media to accept the decision. He took responsibility for the Leafs’ postseason failures during his tenure.

I didn’t get it done in the playoffs, I didn’t help push our team over the line and deliver. I accept responsibility for that. No excuses. That’s the job, I didn’t get it done.”

Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe (

Keefe thanked the players and the Maple Leafs support staff. He added that he believes the club will win the Stanley Cup, telling Leafs Nation they deserve a championship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt anyone was surprised by this news. Keefe’s comments say it all regarding his responsibility for the Leafs’ lack of playoff success over the past five seasons.

Keefe deserved his share of the blame but not all of it. He did what he could with the team that was built for him. He’ll land another NHL coaching gig at some point. In the meantime, he’ll still be on the Leafs’ payroll courtesy of the two-year contract extension he signed with them last year.

Former general manager Kyle Dubas and current GM Brad Treliving are also responsible for building the current roster. Dubas already paid the price when he was fired or quit (depending on which side you believe) last year. They’re not firing Treliving after only a year on the job.

Team president Brendan Shanahan also deserves his share. All of this is the result of his vaunted “Shanaplan”, investing heavily in a handful of stars but leaving little salary-cap room to bolster the supporting cast.

Many in Leafs Nation are calling for Shanahan’s firing. The fact he’s taking part in management’s press conference on Friday indicates he’s not going anywhere for now. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment may be content to let him finish the final year of his contract and see how things pan out.

The players – especially Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and John Tavares – are also responsible. They bear the brunt of it from the fans during every loss and from the media afterward. Sometimes it’s warranted, sometimes not, but it’s a shared responsibility that comes with being an NHL player in the league’s most hockey-mad market.

The Leafs are in a better place compared to eight years ago. They’ve qualified for the playoffs in every season since 2016-17. During Keefe’s tenure, this version of the Leafs posted three of the best records in franchise history, with 115 points in 2021-22, 111 points last season and 102 points this season.

However, that’s small potatoes for a team and a fan base whose 57-year Stanley Cup drought is the league’s longest. Winning just one playoff series in five years wasn’t going to cut it.

Given the Leafs’ current top-heavy roster, ending their long Cup drought will be a daunting challenge for Keefe’s successor.


  1. Had I known there’d be an immediate thread on this news I would have waited to post these comments here.

    So I’ll repeat it here because, from a non-team fan perspective but one who appreciates individual talent and expertise, I think this rates as a cynical move by an organization that keeps laying the blame in the wrong direction. Look UP.

    “I think the Leafs played a “waiting game” before sacking him to see if Ottawa blinked first – which they did with Green.

    Had Staios not hired Green the other day, I’m sure the offer would have gone out to Keefe sometime today. And the LAST thing Shanahan wanted was to see him resurface in Ottawa. He won’t stay unemployed long.

    WHEN are they going to sack Shanahan? How many years do they intend to give him before they realize they don’t NEED someone like him constantly peeking over the shoulder of his GM and giving his approval (or denial? we may never know if that has happened in past years) to every frigging deal/move the GM deems necessary.

    Let’s face it, unless you’re a fan content with having a good seasonal team, but a constant playoff disappointment, his “Shanaplan” is an utter failure after what? 9 years?”

    • I don’t quite understand the nature of Shanahan’s role and thus not sure how responsible he is. Everyone seems to think the blame lies at his door, but were the GMs under him not given independence? Was it ultimately his decision to have the four forwards eat up half (ish) of the cap? If Dubas had wanted to go in a different direction would he have been overruled by Brendan?

      • We’ll probably only ever know those answers when one or more of those GMs write their memoirs somewhere down the line after they leave the game.

    • As Pres of Hockey Ops, Shanahan bears the blame.
      No thinking GM allows 4 players to take up 1/2 of cap space. Poor management committed by Shanahan, a poor hire in the first place.
      M L’s had to trade Kadri and Hyman, 2 big scorers, as well as others to enable the continued good life of the Big 4. There is no room in TO for any other player to develop a career.
      Can you imagine yourself playing on a line with someone making a minimum of 4X your own salary and has a contract for essentially their playing career? How disheartening!! (I know I’d be thinking “you go into the corner and do the heavy work Mitch, you’re paid the big bucks. Then pass it out to me out front so I can score a highlight reel goal !!
      Shanahan shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

  2. Lyle, it could be wishful thinking but It’s possible Shanahan might announce his retirement tomorrow.
    I will be interested to see how Keefe does in his next job. Not sure who would want the Leafs job right now.

  3. So I wonder how successful Berube will be, given his cup run I would bet on him. He’ll want top dollar knowing how desperate the Leafs are and he’s a very confident coach in his ability to get them some playoff success. I believe he turned down the Ottawa job to take on the Leafs challenge, we shall see.

    • If Staios is telling the truth, he never made another offer to anyone … he interviewed several, but the only one he offered the job to was Green.

      • George that could be true but what else could he say, hey I offered the job to Berube and he said no so here’s our new coach runner-up Travis Green. According to Andy Strickland the Blues insider the Senator’s job was Berube’s if he wanted it. Could be semantics Berube interviewed and said no so then an offer was never made. Regardless I think Green is exactly what they need and will do a great job.

      • Snold49: According to the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch, Berube was “intrigued” by the Senators job but he was keeping his options open. In other words, he was looking at other potential coaching jobs and may have gotten better offers. If Berube is announced as the Leafs coach on Friday, we’ll have our answer!

  4. Thin line isn’t it. Toronto wins game 7 in OT, Keefe job is likely safe as neither Boston or Toronto were expected to beat Florida.

    Today we would potentially reading about Monty but for now Pastrnak has saved his job.

    • True that Caper

    • Keefe – 5 playoffs, one series victory.
      Average would be approx 4 series wins.
      So, way below average.
      Can’t keep playing the same song, “we’re so close, next season will be our turn”.
      As Keefe noted so well, he is in the results business.
      Unfortunately for Sheldon, his playoff results were not very good.

      Management acted with class, acknowledging the regular season and Marlie successes. Just time for a new voice. Paul Maurice voiced a similar line when he resigned from Winnipeg.

      Keefe – 4.75 years
      Babcock – 4.25 years

      All coaches come with a “best before” date.

      Next stop is Pittsburgh, a gift for 8787.

      • I find no argument with the “she;f life” axiom Hammer_of-the-Gods … but when your team goes to OT in the 7th game of a series without having had your second best points producer for the opening 2 games, your best sniper for essentially the last 3 games (there is no way Matthews was anywhere near even 70% for game 7), and your third best F playing through the effects of having had a high ankle sprain shortly before the playoffs began, I’d say Keefe got the est out of what was left.

        Yes, injuries are “part of the game” – but where do you think the Bruins would be today if, instead, they had Marchand, Pastrnak and Coyle in that situation and the Leafs had all hands on deck?

  5. Worst kept secret in the NHL
    Keefe was going to be fired❗️

    Next up it will be Craig Berube
    In leaf land and he will kick some ass…..

    Mariner gets shipped out next….❓

  6. New Jersey set to interview Keefe which makes Berube to Toronto even more likely.

    • Sullivan to Devils please

      Berube to Pens…. We can dream

      Accairi, Eller, Smith , Nieto out replaced from WBS or younger (with size and grit) UFAs, plus Berube in Sullivan out…. Guarantees Playoffs next spring

      • Pengy, 8787

        I dont see any good coach touching the Pen’s
        They are only going to last a couple of years & get Fired & next up the same thing…..
        They only have $12.M in Cap space

        They are going to go into a Very Very Long
        Re-build before the trade deadline in 2025….
        the pen’s really have nothing on the Farm and nothing young on the team maybe 2 in the top 9, and 1 or 2 on d,
        Jarry has been a bust this year,

        Pen’s Prospects look very poor.
        Samuel Poulin looks about the best forward and he is 23 and cant crack the line up they other guy
        Brayden Yager,18 yr old, is a couple of years away from the NHL…
        they look to have lots of older prospects 22,23,24,

        Owen Pickering looks like the best d prospect
        Joel Blomqvist could be a good back up in a year or 2…❓

  7. It has been stated by those supposedly in the know, that when Dubas traded for Foligno, Shanahan and others in the Leaf hierarchy said no and wanted Dubas to trade for Sam Bennett.
    Bennett ended up going to Florida and the rest is history.
    So the question becomes, how much did Shanahan really interfere with Dubas’s running of the team and how many of the multitude of mistakes made were Dubas’s responsibility?

    Trading for Foligno instead of Bennett
    Protecting Justin Holl instead of Jared McCann
    Trading Marchment for Malgin
    Trading for Giordano instead of Jake Middleton when Giordano could have been signed in the summer for nothing.
    And the big one signing Tavares (instead of investing the money in Leafs defense).
    Trading Kadri for Barrie and Kerfoot.

    It is my understanding those were all Dubas mistakes, not Shanahan’s.

  8. Hey, Sheldon, the Blue Jackets would appreciate you.