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Toronto Maple Leafs fire head coach Sheldon Keefe after latest playoff disappointment

Click to play video: 'Sheldon Keefe reacts after being fired as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach'
Sheldon Keefe reacts after being fired as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach
WATCH - Sheldon Keefe reacts after being fired as Toronto Maple Leafs head coach – May 9, 2024

The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Sheldon Keefe after the team’s latest playoff disappointment.

The organization announced the decision in a statement Thursday morning and said it will immediately begin the search for a new head coach.

“Decisions regarding the remainder of the coaching staff will follow,” the statement said.

The Leafs were eliminated in the first round of the NHL playoffs last Saturday after a Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins in overtime.

“Today’s decision was difficult. Sheldon is an excellent coach and a great man; however, we determined a new voice is needed to help the team push through to reach our ultimate goal,” Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving said.

“We thank Sheldon for his hard work and dedication to the organization over the last nine years, and wish him and his family all the very best.”

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Keefe coached the Leafs to a 212-97-40 record in 349 regular season games, the organization noted. But it was just 16-21 in the post-season, including a 1-5 series record.

Under Keefe, the club had three consecutive 100-point seasons, including a team record 115-point season in 2021-22.

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Despite finally getting the organization over a painful playoff hump last spring when the Leafs advanced to Round 2 for the first time in nearly two decades, Keefe was unable to keep that momentum going.

Toronto bowed out in a tepid five games to the Florida Panthers in the second round in 2023 before Kyle Dubas was fired as general manager less than two weeks later.

Click to play video: 'Toronto Maple Leafs fire head coach Sheldon Keefe'
Toronto Maple Leafs fire head coach Sheldon Keefe

That dismissal following a roller-coaster stretch led to questions about Keefe’s future, but new GM Brad Treliving elected to keep the Dubas loyalist after taking the reins, and then inked the Brampton, Ont., product to a contract extension through 2025-26.

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Keefe posted a roughly two-minute long video on X Thursday after news of his firing.

He thanked the organization, players, and support staff and said he was grateful for the opportunity to coach the Leafs.

“I didn’t get it done in the playoffs. I didn’t help push our team over the line and deliver,” Keefe said.

“I accept responsibility for that. No excuses. That’s the job. I didn’t get it done. It’s the reality of the business and I accept it.”

Keefe also had a message for Leafs fans.

“Leafs nation: you deserve your Stanley Cup,” he said.

“Your passion at home and on the road is unmatched. It’s an incredible honor to coach the Maple Leafs to try to deliver for you.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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