Sheldon Keefe “thrilled” to be officially announced as Leafs' head coach for 2023-24 season
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Sheldon Keefe “thrilled” to be officially announced as Leafs' head coach for 2023-24 season

Coach Keefe is back! The Leafs made it official today with a re-introductory press conference.



Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe was officially re-introduced to the media earlier today, with GM Brad Treliving confirming that Keefe will be back behind the Leafs' bench in 2023-24.

“Obviously, I’m thrilled to be back,” Keefe told reporters in Nashville earlier today. “It’s been a process, but a good process, a thorough one, at times uncertain and uncomfortable, but a good process and a necessary one and understanding the position that Brad and the organization are in. But of course, thrilled to continue on.”

With Kyle Dubas, the GM who hired Keefe, now gone there was some belief that Keefe would be replaced this offseason. To his credit though, Treliving gave Keefe a chance to keep his job and met with him multiple times to determine if a new voice was needed. Keefe explained that process and stated that essentially he had to interview for his job again.

“I just approached it as though I was starting anew in a lot of ways,” said Keefe. “It’s a new relationship, nothing pre-existing with Brad. Going through that process, (is like) you’re interviewing for any job. Part of (the conversation) was where we’ve been, what we’ve been through, how we’ve handled different situations, and where I think the team is at.”

“I respect that he took the time and was that thorough,” said Keefe. “That showed me that he was serious about it. It’s an important decision for him. While uncomfortable at times in terms of some of the questions and the uncertainty for myself, he was easy to talk to and made it comfortable that way. And the more time you spend together, the more excited you get about working with him. So I’m thrilled with how it’s worked out.

“In my case it’s not a new position. But I do look at it in the sense that there is some newness to this and that your boss is different and comes from a different place.”

It's not necessarily business as usual for Keefe this season though. Treliving has his own thoughts on where this team has to go and Keefe will be expected to be in line with those thoughts and plans.

“Brad has come in with a really good perspective. He’s got great personality and is good to be around, but still got great experience, lots of connections and a fresh perspective I think that is healthy for our group,” said Keefe. “He had great respect for how our team has defended and how our team has evolved, the effort and commitment that our best players have shown on the defensive side of the puck and how that has developed over the years.

“I think that’s something that he believes is the foundation of any team and in particular when it’s led by your best people. I think he’s seen the growth in our players and how they’ve done that over my tenure as coach."

Keefe enters the final year of his contract with the Leafs, so if he can't take the team on a lengthy playoff run this season then you have to imagine he and Treliving won't be meeting much next offseason.

Source: Toronto Sun