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Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits: Matthews, Keefe & Core Team Members

During his introduction to the Toronto Maple Leafs media, new GM Brad Treliving answered questions about the team. What did he say?

In this post, I want to re-visit the recent media conference where Brad Treliving was introduced to the public as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ new general manager (GM). I’ll shake out the conversation with the Maple Leafs’ media as a way to pull out three Quick Hits.

In the first Quick Hit, Treliving emphasized the importance of a face-to-face meeting between himself and Austin Matthews. Since Matthews is the face of the franchise, Treliving noted the need to build trust and understanding with each other. The conversation will work to elicit each other’s visions.

Auston Matthews injured Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews injured Maple Leafs

In the second Quick Hit, Treliving was circumspect about the future of current head coach Sheldon Keefe. Many fans believed that, when former GM Kyle Dubas was shown the door, coach Keefe would be close behind him. Treliving highlighted the need for an open-minded approach to who the coach would be.

In the third Quick Hit, Treliving defended the core players of the Maple Leafs. He dismissed the idea of making major changes needed to be made, and he emphasized the team’s collective strength.

Here’s more specific information about each of these.

Related: Maple Leafs Will Miss Jason Spezza’s Loyalty

Quick Hit One: Establishing Trust and Vision with Matthews

Treliving recognized that meeting face-to-face with Matthews is crucial for building trust and understanding each other’s visions. Such a meeting will play a significant role in determining the direction of the team.

Matthews has previously spoken highly of Dubas. It was clear that they had a strong relationship. Somehow Treliving needs to step into that vacated space. He wisely recognizes that, in his new role, he faces the challenge of earning Matthews’ trust and aligning their visions. From my perspective, it’s a wise move.

Related: Time for Maple Leafs’ Big Three to Put Money Where Mouths Are

Quick Hit Two: Treliving Is Uncertain About Sheldon Keefe, But …

Treliving expressed that he’s currently uncertain about the future of head coach Sheldon Keefe. However, he didn’t rule out keeping Keefe around. As Keefe enters the final year of his contract, it would seem a decision needs to be made quickly.

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

This situation is tricky because Keefe has been partnered with Dubas throughout his entire coaching career. Treliving was wise enough to praise Keefe’s regular season success and defensive coaching abilities. While the timeframe for a decision remains unclear, Treliving noted that he is approaching the decision about the coach with an open mind.

Treliving is likely considering other candidates for the role; however, he’ll likely have a long sitdown with Keefe – in the same way he will with Matthews.

Related: Treliving’s Mistakes in Calgary Will Help Him in Toronto

Quick Hit Three: Treliving Defended the Core Players, But Focused on the Entire Team

Treliving was also wise enough to defend the core players of the Maple Leafs. He rejected the notion that he would come in guns blazing to make major changes. However, he also emphasized that the team’s success is not solely dependent on one or two players but on the collective effort of the entire team.

In response to the media highlighting the “Core Four,” Treliving responded that the team’s success is a result of the entire roster. He noted that significant changes might not be necessary for improvement. However, I wonder if it’s clear to him yet that improvement only counts in the postseason.

The Bottom Line

With the July 1st deadline approaching, the Maple Leafs face key decisions. Building trust and aligning visions with Matthews emerged as a top priority for Treliving. The uncertainty surrounding Keefe’s future also raised questions about a potential coaching change.

Despite media speculation about significant roster changes, Treliving defended the core players and emphasized the collective strength of the team.

William Nylander, Maple Leafs

Now what? Soon, the team will begin to prepare for the next season. Big changes are likely to be made – or, perhaps now. That said, I cannot imagine the team not looking quite a bit different than it does now.

Related: Should Maple Leafs Let Keefe Go? Four Key Questions



  1. Al Mac

    June 4, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Treliving wasn’t brought in to run things back. He left things wide open in the PC. Pretty much anything is on the table at this point.

    • gfinale

      June 4, 2023 at 5:32 pm


  2. gfinale

    June 4, 2023 at 5:56 am

    Let’s keep in mind that managers, when they first come in, say what will go down well with EVERYONE…even if they are thinking something else. Their first days are spent assessing everything and everyone, developing a rapport with everyone, etc. We WILL know whether Treliving is going to trade Matthews and/or Marner within the next 2-3 weeks though. Here’s an example. Treliving can talk all he wants right now about protecting the core 4, etc. but if Matthews tells him max dollars allowed or I go to UFA then Treliving has a reason to trade him to spite what he has previously said.

    • bdjbent

      June 4, 2023 at 6:19 am

      He could trade Marner, insted and move on from there. Witch i think is a better idea. Marners points comes from being on PP1 and playing with, either Matthews or Tavares. He olayed well with JVR also. Bottomline Marner needs a goalscorer. So even Matthews demands max, he does not need to trade him. He can also try to find a fit for Tavares, explaning we needs this to moving forwards. So he have options still. The two best players on the Team is William Nylander and Auston Matthews. They should be resingend. If not there us a great chance, they will be playing with Crosby, after they depart from leafs.

  3. getrdone

    June 4, 2023 at 6:30 am

    Unless there is a willingness by the “Core 4” to take a Toronto discount in favour of team building, to me it is get the best you can for anyone you can move and move on. The team has to play for each other, that is team building, not me first——

  4. Afp1961

    June 4, 2023 at 7:02 am

    Matthews will sign. Willie will sign. Marner should be traded and Keefe should be shown the door. Change is needed after five years of rinse cycle repeat. GM change alone is not enough. Marner wil never be a playoff warrior. Said it three years ago and every year since he proves me correct. Keefe is not a strategist. His assistants are stronger and have all left for better pastures (DJ Smith, Carbury) both would be better options. Get Quenneville now.

    • gfinale

      June 4, 2023 at 5:38 pm

      Agreed except there are some other coach possibilities now or within the next 4 months but MUST have good and substantial playoff experience!

  5. Jon Harding

    June 4, 2023 at 8:34 am

    Treliving was understandably careful with his words when talking about change. I hope it was because he sees the need for change in a measured way as opposed to seeing a need for change but feeling handcuffed. The wisest advice I have for him about the Toronto market is under promise and over deliver. Good start. Change is needed. Look no further than the Leafs’ 11 overtime losses last season and fact they are a .500 team on Monday nights at home since 2017. Both factoids demonstrate the entitled, cozy, cushy, culture of MLSE that slowly zaps away accountability of every player who walks through the door. Treliving needs to make winning a Stanley Cup the goal and he needs to be absolutely relentless in pursuit. Culture is key now in Toronto and if a few of the emerging Forest Hill mucky mucks need a cold, sharp dose of reality then so be it.

  6. Pingback: Two Key Reasons Auston Matthews Will Sign a Contract Extension

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