Jim Montgomery celebrates an Auston Matthews goal at the NHL All-Star game
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Jim Montgomery sends Sheldon Keefe a bit of a message, splitting up Matthews and Marner at the All-Star Game

Published February 4, 2024 at 10:25

For the first time in forever, the NHL All-Star weekend was not only watchable, but genuinely entertaining. From Michael Bublé's mushroom confession, to the revamped skills competition and some fantastic 3-on-3 hockey, Toronto's All Star game was definitely a hit this year.

It was Auston Matthews' Leaf-filled squad that won the big game, not something we as Leafs fans are all that familiar with. After a shootout win over Team Hughes, Team Matthews beat Team McDavid by a comfortable 3-goal margin, 7-4, to seal the deal as the big winners of the weekend. The weekend's biggest loser may have been Sheldon Keefe. No, Keefe wasn't involved in the event, but someone who was certainly made him look like an amateur.

Those watching the game closely may have noticed that Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, who was behind the bench for Team Matthews, split up the Leafs' top line duo of Matthews and Marner for the second game. When asked about the decision, Montgomery simply stated that one of their lines had been a minus 3 in the first game and an adjustment was necessary.

One of my biggest gripes with Sheldon Keefe is his stubbornness. It's a remnant of Kyle Dubas' "trust the process" mentality. Keefe has a habit of clinging to an idea until it's too late, failing to adapt to situations as they change. How many games this season have we seen the Leafs start well, until their opponents make an adjustment and take over the game? It may have been a meaningless game with different rules, but I feel that Montgomery's ability to spot an issue quickly and immediately make a decision to solve it highlights Keefe's lack of willingness to do the same.

There's a reason why Jim Montgomery is as respected as he is around the National Hockey League. He's widely considered one of the best coaches in the league and a part of that is how he makes his adjustments. I hope Sheldon Keefe had his pen and paper out for this one, because he should have been taking some notes. Winning is not about making sure everyone on your team is happy and gets to play with whoever they want. It's about finding something that works, even if that means game-by-game adjustments and even in-game adjustments. As good as he is, Keefe could benefit from a few extra lessons from a tenured NHL coach like Montgomery.

February 4   |   972 answers
Jim Montgomery sends Sheldon Keefe a bit of a message, splitting up Matthews and Marner at the All-Star Game

Should Keefe be let go as Leafs head coach?

Not right now, it's the wrong time31031.9 %
Should have happened at the start of the season54756.3 %
No, keep him, he's a good coach11511.8 %
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