Sheldon Keefe signs extension with Toronto

The Toronto Maple Leafs and head coach Sheldon Keefe have agreed to a contract extension. Keefe was entering the final year of his current contract with the team. Keefe sports a career record of 166-71-30 in the regular season and a playoff record of 13-17.

How did Keefe earn the job to begin with?

Sheldon Keefe spent five seasons with Toronto’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, also in Toronto, the Marlies. While coaching the Toronto Marlies, Keefe won the Calder Cup in 2017-18. That team had players such as Mason Marchment, Trevor Moore, Timothy Liljegren, Andreas Johnsson, Travis Dermott, and Pierre Engvall.

After jumping out to an 11-2-3 start with the Marlies, Keefe suddenly got promoted to the big time. After the save that started a chain reaction of coach firings, Mike Babcock would be relieved of his duties and would not return to the NHL until just this year. Sheldon Keefe would turn Toronto’s regular season around, turning a 9-10-4 Leafs team into one that would have earned around 95 points in a full season.

How has Keefe done with the Leafs?

Keefe has helped the Leafs to their best stretch of hockey in a long time. For the first time in franchise history, Toronto had back-to-back 110-point seasons. In 2021, the Leafs won their division for the first time since 2000.

The coaching change did not however change Toronto’s success beyond April by much. Keefe-led Maple Leafs teams are 1-4 in playoff series. A team with the recently-extended Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander has won, at most, five games in the playoffs.

Now that the Leafs have finally won a series, the expectation for Toronto is a Stanley Cup. Anything less and key players and staff members may have to say their goodbyes. Thanks to this extension from new general manager Brad Treliving, Keefe will likely not be one of them.

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