The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to provide offseason content and whether we like it or not the hockey universe revolves around Toronto. After extending Auston Matthews to a four-year deal, the Maple Leafs extended head coach Sheldon Keefe to a two-year extension.
Keefe now has a minimum of at least three more seasons as the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has one year left on his current deal, which is this upcoming season and his new extension kicks in at the start of the 2024-25 season.
And it makes sense too. Remember when general manager Brad Treliving took the job he was not going to rush into any decisions. Treliving mentioned he watched Sheldon from afar and liked what he saw as Keefe made the Maple Leafs a better defensive team.
But the big thing for Treliving was to get to know Keefe. Not his hockey mind, but as a person as well. He did that with Matthews as well. And most likely will do that with every player on the team.
Treliving has not truly sat down and seen this team. He really does not what he has and what needs fixing. Treliving brought in more toughness and skill with Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, and Ryan Reaves. Added John Klingberg on the blueline.
But Treliving has been so busy taking care of a list that included Keefe and Matthews that he might not truly understand what he has.
Thus extending Sheldon Keefe was the right and only move the Maple Leafs general manager had.
Look Keefe has one of the best winning percentages in NHL history amongst coaches who have coached 250 or more regular season games, that is about three years. That is pretty darn impressive.
We all know the struggles for Keefe and the players in the playoffs. Yes, they took a step in the right direction last year, but the performance in the second round will haunt the players if they do not get passed that round.
And who else are you going to find this time of year that is better than Keefe? Say the Maple Leafs did get rid of Sheldon Keefe. The next guy that comes in is just an interim coach anywhere. So you would be in the same position of having a lame-duck coach if you kept Keefe and did not extend him.
Thus Treliving eliminated another distraction or storyline from the Maple Leafs training camp by extending Keefe before they open camp in the middle of September.
Another thing this could be is the organization learning from their past. We all know what happened with Kyle Dubas last season. Do you think the Maple Leafs want to go through that mess again?
The team knew what kind of mind they had in the organization. Instead of letting the season play out similarly to Dubas and going through end-of-season drama, they kept a good hockey coach with a good team.
Not to mention this is job security for Sheldon Keefe. He knows the players. The players know. The team knows what to expect from him. But this team needs to perform.
Plus Treliving got Keefe involved in the process of courting potential unrestricted free agents. Keefe sat down and talked with them and has been willing to work with Treliving.
The contract is not too short (one year), and the Maple Leafs have to do the song and dance next year. And not too long (three to four years), where hey you know he is not making it through the whole thing. It is just right.
Thus it was a no-brainer to extend Sheldon Keefe with this Maple Leafs team.