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The Maple Leafs Friday presser will determine the team’s direction – The Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are gearing up for a major announcement on Friday. There is a lot of speculation surrounding the possible firing of head coach Sheldon Keefe. As Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment CEO Keith Pelley, president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Brad Treliving prepare for a joint press conference, the spotlight is on Keefe’s future and the team’s postseason struggles under his leadership.

Related: Will Ilya Samsonov be a Maple Leaf next season?

However, there is also speculation about Shanahan’s future. There are rumors that he may not escape the axe. That said, since he will be at the meeting, he will likely remain with the team.

Sheldon Keefe has been a solid head coach for the Maple Leafs

Regular season success has been a hallmark of Keefe’s coaching tenure. In his time at the helm, the Maple Leafs have an impressive winning percentage of .607. However, their postseason performance has been tainted by disappointment, advancing past the first round only once.

Treliving’s decision is critical given the team’s desire for postseason success. But a decision to remove him is expected because Keefe will not be in attendance Friday.

Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs
Sheldon Keefe, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If Keefe is relieved of his duties, Treliving will have to consider many coaching options. While names like Craig Berube and Todd McLellan are in the spotlight, other coaches like Gerard Gallant and Jay Woodcroft are also in the mix. Joel Quenneville’s name has also surfaced, but he must receive NHL clearance.

The decision on Keefe’s future will determine the Maple Leafs’ direction for next season. Keefe failed to lead the Maple Leafs to a successful playoff run, and the decision to cut him will likely make fans extremely happy in the short term. The vocals were more than clear. Last year it was Kyle Dubas, and this year it will be Keefe.

Related: Today in hockey history: May 8

Unless there is a big surprise, Friday’s press conference is a done deal. Change is on the horizon in Toronto, and Keefe will be leaving town.

Evaluating Brendan Shanahan’s legacy with the Maple Leafs

What about Shanahan’s future with the organization? There are questions about the rationale behind keeping him, especially given the team’s lack of playoff success under his leadership.

With Shanahan at the top of the food chain for a decade, the Maple Leafs have just one playoff win. That’s a poor performance for a team in a city often hailed as the Mecca of hockey. Despite having time to develop a winning franchise, the team kept running out of gas in the postseason.

Brendan Shanahan
Toronto Maple Leafs Chairman Brendan Shanahan
(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

During Shanahan’s time, he first brought in veteran hockey minds like GM Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock. But neither could get the job done and they were eventually removed. Second, he brought in newcomer Kyle Dubas as GM, who hired his old running mate in Keefe. Neither approach worked. Fans are impatient and frustrated with the long gap between Stanley Cups and doubt Shanahan’s ability to steer the team in the right direction.

Shanahan has made improvements, but have they been enough?

When Shanahan took on his role in 2014, the Maple Leafs were far from a powerhouse organization. He made changes that gave the team opportunities each season, and under his leadership they made significant progress. But it’s not enough. At the same time, franchises like the Vegas Golden Knights were flourishing, winning numerous playoff rounds and even capturing a Stanley Cup.

Related: The criticism of Maple Leafs’ efforts is off base

The calls for change are growing louder, with many claiming Shanahan’s time with the Maple Leafs is over. With a single playoff series win in a decade, is there a need for a new perspective? Is a new leadership structure in the works? The upcoming press conference will shed light on Shanahan’s fate. However, two days before the event, logic would suggest Shanahan stays and Keefe goes.

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For many Maple Leafs fans, enough is enough. Will Keefe’s departure calm the fan base? The answer is probably yes, at least for this year. What happens next year is a different story.

The bottom line: Maple Leafs fans will only be partially happy

Given the mood last season when the organization decided to organize it again, it is unlikely that this will happen again this season. While Keefe’s future as head coach appears in doubt, Shanahan will likely see more time as president. He will get another chance to move the team forward – at least, that’s what they hope.

Friday’s press conference will clarify potential changes within the coaching staff and organizational structure as the Maple Leafs look to address postseason shortcomings and reposition themselves for success. Many fans will be happy that Keefe is gone, and many will be unhappy that Shanahan remains.