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Former Coach Says Keefe’s New Deal a Message to Maple Leafs Team

According to one former coach, Sheldon Keefe’s two-year extension sends a clear message to the Maple Leafs roster.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have secured head coach Sheldon Keefe with a two-year contract extension this week, making it so that he’s potentially the bench boss for the next three seasons. While it wasn’t a monster contract of five years, nor was it presented as the organization’s unwavering faith in his ability to be the coach regardless of the results this season and next, it was a show of support for a coach that has earned the right to go into the year without a cloud of uncertainty hanging over himself and the season.

While this might suggest a sense of security and stability, the reality is a bit more nuanced. Bruce Boudreau, a former NHL coach, weighed in on the situation during a guest appearance on First Up, shedding light on the dynamics of coaching contracts in the league.

Boudreau emphasized that for coaches, the only true assurance of their position lies in their contract. Unlike players, who can take their skills to the free agency market or be traded, coaches are often hired and fired without much leverage and all dependant on how the wind blows from game to game. When a coach enters the final year of their deal, it can create uncertainty and affect their ability to convey their strategies effectively to the team. In such cases, the coach’s tenure often becomes precarious.

Boudreau spoke of his own experiences in Vancouver and in the past as a coach with only one year left, and noted that twice, he didn’t make it to the end of that one year. When it comes to the Maple Leafs, the two-year extension for Keefe sends a particular message to the Maple Leafs’ players: This is their coach for the foreseeable future, especially within the current championship window.

The Leafs didn’t need to give Keefe four or five years to send this message. All they needed to do was let the roster know that Keefe wasn’t about to be released if things went sideways early. It serves as a clear directive that the team must rally behind Keefe’s leadership during this critical period if they aspire to achieve success.

The Maple Leafs Still Have Flexibility

Conversely, the Leafs’ front office may have chosen not to extend Keefe beyond two years as a strategic move. This approach ensures flexibility, enabling the organization to make changes if necessary. By maintaining a relatively short contract term, the team remains prepared to pivot should circumstances demand a coaching adjustment.

Brad Treliving offered a hint as to the direction he’s going to take with the Maple Leafs coaching staff, including Sheldon Keefe.

In essence, Keefe’s contract extension represents a delicate balance between support and pragmatism. While it provides him with some financial security and affirms his role within the organization, it also underscores the unfinished business and the pressure to deliver results in the coming seasons. The Maple Leafs have sent a message: The window to win is now, and they are committed to seeing it through with Keefe at the helm. This new contract ensures that both the players and the coach know it.

Next: Leafs’ Writer Irks Canadiens Fans w/ William Nylander Trade Idea

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  1. Pingback: Sheldon Keefe's Contract Extension: A Clear Message to the Maple Leafs Players - S.G.E

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