Wayne Simmonds celebrating a goal in Toronto
Photo credit: Sportsnet

An ex-Leaf throws some heavy accusations at Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe

Published January 26, 2024 at 4:54 PM

On Friday, former Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds made headlines when he announced his retirement from the NHL, stating that he was leaving the game behind to focus more on his family. Now 35 years old, Simmonds has played over 1,000 career NHL games and has registered 526 career points and more than 1,300 career penalty minutes.

As great as this news was and as happy for Simmonds as Leafs Nation is, the retirement message also came with a bit of a jab towards current head coach Sheldon Keefe and some support for Ryan Reaves, a fellow enforcer with 849 games of NHL experience.

Simmonds told reporter Joshua Clipperton this week that he didn't get to play in Toronto as much as he would have hoped and implied that he believes that Sheldon Keefe and the coaching staff in Toronto didn't give him much of a chance. He also said that he's seeing more of the same with the Leafs coaching staff and Ryan Reaves this season.

"A little bit of a tough time [for Reaves] at the beginning of the season, but I don't think he got too many opportunities to actually be able to do what he can do. That's just me knowing how it happened for me. Feel like it's going much of the same for him."

Simmonds did suit up in 72 games for the Leafs in 2021-22, but was a mainstay in the press box last season, playing in just 18 games for the Leafs in his final NHL season despite being fully healthy - just as we're seeing with Reaves right now.

Is it fair for Simmonds to be criticizing the Leafs for not relying on him more and criticizing them now for their handling of Reaves, who has become borderline unplayable this season? I'm sure some criticism is warranted, but I'm not sure it's fair to suggest that Reaves should be a mainstay in the lineup either. Reaves is a -11 through his 21 games played this season, despite only playing 7:20 per night on average.

When it comes to the eye test, it lines up with the numbers. Reaves has not played well enough to be an every game player on a contending team. He just hasn't.

Obviously, Sheldon Keefe has not yet responded to the accusations, and he may opt not to at all. Time will tell.

January 26   |   620 answers
An ex-Leaf throws some heavy accusations at Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe

Do you think Sheldon Keefe has given Simmonds and Reaves a fair shake?

Yes27744.7 %
No34355.3 %
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