Any team that faces a first-round exit will draw questions about the future of its management and coaching staff, especially so when it is the same result year after year. The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t moved past the first round since 2004, meaning those questions are getting louder and louder. Today, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan made it very clear during his end-of-year availability that the jobs of both general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe are not in jeopardy for next season.
Both will be back and have already started exit interviews with the Maple Leafs roster that failed to get past the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one. Shanahan specifically noted that they will “not be making changes just for the sake of making changes” and gave a full vote of confidence to Dubas and Keefe as important parts of the organization.
Since taking over behind the bench in 2019, Keefe has had one of the most successful starts to his NHL coaching career in history–at least in terms of regular season success. Through 185 games behind the bench, he has gone 116-50-19, a .678 winning percentage that is actually better than the likes of Scotty Bowman, Jon Cooper, and Joel Quenneville. Obviously, that kind of success doesn’t mean much if the playoff results don’t follow but it certainly would be difficult to move off the young coach so quickly.
For Dubas, the results are similar in the regular season, though there has also been criticism over the way some of his contract negotiations have gone–specifically with the young restricted free agents that were handed huge long-term contracts. As those players get closer to unrestricted free agency–Auston Matthews will be a free agent after the 2023-24 season–the pressure to win will be even more apparent on Dubas and his management staff.