Free washer | Sheldon Keefe fired: someone was guilty in Toronto…

Is losing in overtime in Game 7 of the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins on a David Pastrnak goal a dismal failure?

In the eyes of the management of the Toronto Maple Leafs, yes. Coach Sheldon Keefe was fired Thursday despite a career record of 212-97-40, fifth in Leafs long history in wins, just four behind legendary Dick Irvin.

Toronto and Keefe finally made it past the first round of the playoffs last spring, ending the Tampa Bay Lightning’s hopes of reaching the final for a fourth straight season, but fell short this year against a superior team .

Results are everything in the world of sport, we hear regularly. Often with good reason. But what if a puck had deflected off John Tavares’ pad in overtime in Game 7 and crossed the red line? Would Keefe be a better coach today? Was he doomed to lose his job in the event of a Boston goal at the dawn of this famous overtime?

If he could have stopped pucks, Keefe probably would have done so. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov was dismal in the regular season and in the playoffs. Young Joseph Woll, after showing great promise a year ago, had a difficult winter. He regained his grace in the playoffs, but withdrew from the final match due to injury. Samsonov had to defend the fort and he did not do badly under the circumstances.

“The decision was difficult,” explained general manager Brad Treliving, hired last summer. Sheldon is a great coach and a great man. But we needed a new voice to lead this team toward its ultimate goal. »

We will know more during the management’s press conference later on Friday. There are obviously important elements missing to analyze this decision: the internal dynamics, Keefe’s relationship with his players, the accuracy of some of his decisions and the reaction of his leaders to his decisions.

But from the outside, the first instinct would be to blame the managers of this team for the Leafs’ inability to break into the playoffs, president Brendan Shanahan in the lead, his general manager Treliving, the man behind the immense fiasco in Calgary . The Toronto media was quick to point accusing fingers at the top of the hierarchy.

Keefe had to deal with one of the poorest goaltending duos in the National Hockey League. The defense was porous. To solidify it, Treliving hired a defensively weak offensive defenseman, John Klingberg, last summer for 4.1 million. Klingberg played 14 games, almost all of them awful, before withdrawing due to injury and never returning.

Two important defenders in recent years were at the end of their tether. TJ Brodie played one playoff game, Mark Giordano none. To that end, the acquisitions of Joel Edmundson and Ilya Lyubushkin at the trade deadline helped. But can we aspire to a Stanley Cup with a top 4 consisting of Morgan Rielly, Lyubushkin, Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe?

Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi signed one-year deals to add depth to the offense. The first received 3 million for one year, the second 5.5 million for one season as well. They both scored a goal and obtained three assists in three playoff games, after a season of around forty points.

Supporting player David Kämpf received a gift of 9.6 million for four years, with a partial no-trade clause. He played 13:21 in the playoffs at the center of the fourth line, after a meager 19 points in the regular season.

37-year-old tough guy Ryan Reaves got $1.35 million from the Leafs for three years. He did not play in the final two games of the series against the Bruins, after being limited to an average of seven minutes of usage in the first five.

And today, Sheldon Keefe is the first to pay for the Leafs’ failure in the first round.

No guard, no success…


Coach Lindy Ruff

Eight coaches have been fired this season. Before Keefe, there was Lindy Ruff, DJ Smith, Craig Berube, Don Granato, Todd McLellan, Dean Evason and Jay Woodcroft.

What do they have in common? Everyone, without exception, could count on a reputable goalkeeper. Ruff had to deal with Vitek Vanecek and Nico Daws for most of the season in New Jersey; Smith had Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg in Ottawa; Jordan Binnington isn’t a bad goaltender for the Blues, but he never lived up to his playoff performances in 2019 under Berube; Don Granato’s Sabers quickly promoted young Devon Levi to number one, too quickly in fact. He was demoted to the American League and another young man, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, took over, successfully in fact.

Cam Talbot was the number one goaltender for Todd McLellan’s Kings. He finished the playoffs on the bench after a terrible second half of the season. Woodcroft didn’t help himself at the start of the season in Edmonton by changing the defensive system of play. But his experienced goalkeeper Jack Campbell was dismal to the point of spending the winter in the American League and Stuart Skinner stopped nothing; at the Wild of the fallen coach Evason, Marc-André Fleury is at the end of his career after a glorious career and the young Filip Gustavsson was unable to repeat his exploits of the previous season.


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