Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Sheldon Keefe behind the bench in 2018. Photo courtesy Andy Nietupski/Wikipedia.Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Sheldon Keefe behind the bench in 2018. Photo courtesy Andy Nietupski/Wikipedia.

Leafs fire Sheldon Keefe after playoff disappointment (VIDEO)

A change behind the bench is coming to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The NHL club announced Thursday morning that head coach Sheldon Keefe has been relieved of his duties, days after the Leafs lost to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"[Thursday]’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," said Leafs General Manager Brad Treliving. "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."

Keefe recorded a video message Thursday afternoon and posted it on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

The Leafs remain stung following another early playoff exit. While Keefe has been able to reach the playoffs in each of his five years as head coach, counting the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season, Toronto only reached the second round once, in 2023.

Toronto currently has the longest Stanley Cup drought, last winning it, and reaching the Finals, in 1967.

A former right-winger who played junior hockey with the Barrie Colts, and portions of three seasons with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, Keefe coached junior hockey in Pembroke and Sault Ste. Marie. He was hired to coach the Toronto Marlies in 2015, winning the Calder Cup in 2018.

The Maple Leafs organization promoted him to the NHL club in 2019, where he compiled a regular-season record of 212-97-40. His playoff record, though, was 16-21.

Keefe had signed a contract extension before the current hockey season.

There has been no word from the Leafs on whether any other staffers are being replaced, or what the search for Keefe's successor will entail. The current assistant coaches are Guy Boucher, Mike van Ryn, and Dean Chynoweth. Curtis Sanford handles goaltending.

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