Sheldon Keefe sends a clear message to John Tavares.
David Kirouac/CSM/Zuma  

Sheldon Keefe sends a clear message to John Tavares.

The head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs has made it clear what he thinks of his veteran centerman.

Jonathan Larivee

If someone had told you at the start of the regular season that Max Domi would eventually overtake John Tavares as the second line centerman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, you likely would have laughed it off. Unfortunately for Tavares that has now become his reality and on Saturday Sheldon Keefe sent a clear message that leaves little doubt about how he views his captain's current form.

Keefe has now confirmed that the Maple Leafs will roll out with the same lineup they deployed against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday, meaning that Tavares will once again be relegated to centering the third line between Bobby McMann and Nicolas Robertson. The second line duties will once again fall to Max Domi who will play alongside Tyler Bertuzzi and William Nylander.

Obviously having a player eating up $11 million of cap space on the third line is not ideal, but it's hard to argue with the decision from Keefe given the run of success the team has had as of late with the change in place. Keefe's decision to go back to Domi on the second line would appear to indicate that this is a more permanent solution in the eyes of the Maple Leafs head coach.

That would send the message that Sheldon Keefe does not believe John Tavares, with one more year remaining on his current contract, can compete against the elite level talent that opposing team's are bringing on their top 2 lines any longer.