The Toronto Maple Leafs are having an up-and-down season. While fans keep saying that only the postseason matters, that seems to assume that they believe their team will make the postseason – no matter what else happens. With the difficulties the team is having in goal, that seems to be a bit iffy right now.

The fans are (or seem to be) blinking. And, with that blinking, there comes some speculation that their head coach Sheldon Keefe should be canned. At least, the conversations I’m reading from fans on different sites seem to be engaging in speculation and rumours toward that end.

Is there going to be a coaching change in Toronto? Although the team emerged from a tough four-game western road trip with a 2-2 record, before that trip there was a ton of conversation around the potential for such coaching change.

Sheldon Keefe, Maple Leafs coach as a player

In fact, for me (and I’m usually calm about such things) a friend texted me that he had heard on the radio that Keefe had been fired. I bought it. I only found out later by searching that it was a hoax.

Related: Settling the Maple Leafs Matthews, Marner & Nylander Issue

The Debate Over Sheldon Keefe’s Future Has Intensified

Funny thing coaching in the NHL. There’s a coaching carousel in place. Coaches just don’t seem to last long. It wouldn’t be surprising if Keefe got fired. That’s just the way it seems to work.

The truth is that the debate over Keefe’s future has intensified. These discussions are fueled by the team’s inconsistent performance and recent rumours of organizational meetings taking place in secret. The entire event is shaded in mystery. Still, the question remains. Should the organization let Keefe go?

Four Reasons Why the Maple Leafs Should Not Fire Sheldon Keefe

Keefe should not be fired. In my analysis here, I’ll dig into four key reasons why I believe the Maple Leafs should not part ways with Keefe. These include (1) his impressive regular-season record, (2) his ability to work with limited resources and injuries, (3) his strategic adaptability, and (4) the importance of avoiding knee-jerk reactions in seeking internal solutions.

Reason One: Keefe Has Put Up an Impressive Regular-Season Record

Coach Keefe boasts the fifth most wins in team history and an impressive .669 winning percentage. He has demonstrated his ability to guide the team successfully through the regular season. These accomplishments should not be overlooked.

Reason Two: Keefe Has Worked with Limited Resources and Injury Challenges

The current season has been challenging for the Maple Leafs. So many injuries have impacted the team. All season long, it seems that Keefe has been dealing with limitations regarding the defensive lineup and the team’s goaltending. For Keefe, these challenges are beyond his control. Is he responsible for having to make do with so many AHL players being called up? It has been an issue. Blaming him for these injuries to his defensive core and the goaltenders seems silly and unjust.

Related: What Now for Matthews, Nylander & Marner’s Maple Leafs’ Future?

Reason Three: Keefe Has Shown His Adaptability By Making Key Lineup Adjustments

Keefe has demonstrated a willingness to make tough lineup adjustments. He’s constantly working with his assistant coaches to work out solutions for any downturn. As such, he shows his adaptability as a coach. Recent changes, such as his success building a solid third line and his surprising wisdom in moving Pontus Holmberg to the top line, have been successful.

Pontus Holmberg, Maple Leafs

While he continues to learn, he also has surrounded himself with solid coaching experience in his assistants. These solid assistants might threaten his continuation as a coach. Yet, he uses them wisely. Keefe’s success in his strategic changes makes firing him seem silly. Would firing him solve these underlying issues? Were his positive adjustments not worthwhile?

Reason Four: The Team’s Leadership Should Avoid Knee-Jerk Reactions

Firing Keefe at this point in the season is a knee-jerk reaction. History would suggest that replacing a coach would offer the team a quick bump in energy and even success. However, that bump often doesn’t last for a long time.

Should the organization seek external solutions instead of focusing on internal factors? If a culture shift is needed, can an outsider to the team make it? Would that bring lasting success? I believe that the team, as currently constructed, needs to face its challenges and learn how to perform without making wrong-minded coaching changes.

The Bottom Line for Head Coach Sheldon Keefe

In conclusion, as a supporter of Coach Keefe, I argue that his regular-season success, ability to adapt, and the need he had to address internal challenges make a strong case for keeping him in his job as the head coach of the Maple Leafs.

Related: Maple Leafs Marner vs Nylander: Who’s the Better Value This Season?

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