Sheldon Keefe is definitely on the hot seat in Toronto
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If the Leafs fire Sheldon Keefe, a new lead candidate to replace him just became available

Published February 2, 2024 at 12:04
BY MIKE ARMENTI

In a surprising turn of events amid All-Star Weekend, it was surprising to learn on Friday that the Los Angeles Kings had fired head coach Todd McLellan - especially after the Kings had just beaten the Nashville Predators on the road in Nashville by a score of 4-2 on January 31st, just before the All-Star Break.

It's not often that you see a coach fired during the All-Star break, especially after a win, but after going 3-5-2 over their past 10 games and slipping into a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, it was clear that something would have to give in Los Angeles. Jim Hiller has now assumed interim head coaching duties for the Kings.


With how up-and-down the Toronto Maple Leafs have been this season, there has been a lot of talk about just how secure Sheldon Keefe's job is as head coach in Toronto. Like the Kings, the Leafs are currently in a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference with 58 points, and there's been a lot of talk about potentially replacing Keefe with any one of the high profile names currently out there - I'd imagine that McLellan would be added to that list now as well.


Some of the top available names on the UFA head coach market are Gerard Gallant, Dean Evason, Craig Berube and the aforementioned McLellan. I suppose you can also toss Joel Quenneville's name into the mix, though there's still been no real determination on his coaching future after the mess in Chicago that had eventually forced him into resigning in Florida a couple of short seasons ago.

In all, there have been 13 coaches fired or not renewed since the end of last season. When you consider that all of New York, Calgary, Anaheim, Washington, Nashville, Columbus (twice), Edmonton, St. Louis, Ottawa, Minnesota, Long Island and now Los Angeles have moved on from their respective coaches, Keefe's job seems a lot less secure right about now.


Obviously, for those assuming that Keefe's job is safe simply because he signed a 1-year extension this summer and is currently signed through next season, it's important to note that Todd McLellan did the same in Los Angeles this past summer. If the Kings have no issue with relieving McLellan of his duties while he's under contract, I can guarantee you that the Leafs wouldn't even bat an eyelash to do the same if they felt that there was someone better suited to lead the team to victory out there.

As far as McLellan's resume goes, he began his NHL head coaching career back in 2008-09 with the San Jose Sharks, leading the Sharks to the Western Conference Finals back in 2010 and 2011. Following his tenure in San Jose, McLellan spent 3 and a quarter seasons as the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers at the beginning of the Connor McDavid era in 2015-16, lasting until partway through the 2018-19 season, having only 1 playoff round win to show for his troubles, albeit with a very poorly constructed Oilers team. McLellan has spent his last 4 and a half season with the Los Angeles Kings, failing to make the playoffs twice with a rebuilding Kings team and losing in the 1st round in each of the last two seasons.


It's anyone's guess what happens with Sheldon Keefe in Toronto, but I would imagine that he's going to be on a very short leash moving forward. Teams have fired their bench boss for less egregious shortcomings than what we've seen from Keefe and the Leafs this season. There's no question that most expected the Leafs to be a top team again this year. With how poorly they've executed the game plan this season, it wouldn't be a shock to see Keefe be next on the chopping block.
POLL
February 2   |   721 answers
If the Leafs fire Sheldon Keefe, a new lead candidate to replace him just became available

If the Leafs do fire Sheldon Keefe, who do you think should replace him?

Todd McLellan9513.2 %
Craig Berube39454.6 %
Gerard Gallant23232.2 %
Other00 %
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