Rumour about ex-Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe completely dispelled

Mike Armenti
May 20, 2024  (10:13)

Sheldon Keefe
Photo credit: Maple Leafs

Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman cleared the air about Sheldon Keefe in Toronto on Monday, shutting down a rumour about why he was fired.

As we all know, the Maple Leafs relieved Keefe of his coaching duties less than a week after he and the Leafs lost to Boston in Round 1, paving the way for the Craig Berube hiring in Toronto.
Part of the motivation for the move was to bring in a different voice and someone who has been in the deep waters in the playoffs and won it all. Berube, as everyone is well aware, won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, and the prevailing thought since his hiring in Toronto is that he's someone who can get the job done and hold guys accountable.
There were rumours floating around in Toronto for a couple of seasons about whether or not Keefe was hard enough on the players when he needed to be. Obviously, we know that Keefe was an open-minded coach, allowing the players to blast music during practices and such, but when push came to shove after a tough loss, I'm not sure many were convinced that he actually held his players accountable.
Friedman addressed whether or not Keefe was too soft during Monday's edition of 32 Thoughts, and the one point he really wanted to drive home was that Keefe was certainly not a soft coach.
"I'm not thrilled with some of the narrative about all of this about Sheldon Keefe. I don't think Sheldon Keefe was a 'soft touch'. Keefe got fired because they said they can't run it back. They were simply in a position where they couldn't do the same things over and over again, but it didn't mean that Keefe was soft. Particularly with Nylander, I heard, he could be really tough. Really tough."

Friedman also brought up the ordeal from last season when Keefe publicly called out his top players for not playing like stars, but then later walked back his comments. He doesn't believe something like that will happen under Berube.
"I think there were times that Keefe was very tough with the players, and everybody remembers one particular case where they had to walk it back. That's not going to happen here. Berube is going to say what he says and he does it in a way that is effective... he's gruff, but he's not unfair and I think that's going to be very important for them."

As far as Keefe is concerned, I'm sure he doesn't regret how he dealt with the players, which in Friedman's point of view, was very firm. However, sometimes a new voice is needed, and maybe Berube will have a better way of handling certain situations that will lead to the Leafs getting the most out of the players - something Keefe simply couldn't do in the playoffs.
MAY 20   |   341 ANSWERS
Rumour about ex-Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe completely dispelled

Do you think Sheldon Keefe is too soft as a coach?

Yes, way too soft12937.8 %
No, just couldn't send the right message13940.8 %
Not soft, but certainly not a prick7321.4 %
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