The bottom line is that the Toronto Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe is facing extra pressure during the final year of his contract. How should he act in the face of such pressure? Former coach Bruce Boudreau offers some insights.
In an interview on Lead Off yesterday, former NHL head coach Bruce Boudreau weighed in on the idea that the Maple Leafs’ Keefe would be facing extra pressure this season. Two things might have created that extra pressure: first, last season didn’t end the way anyone on the Maple Leafs organization wanted it to end – another first-round loss; second, Keefe is in the final year of his contract with the organization. Usually means a make-or-break season.
Boudreau did acknowledge that he believed the media would make a big thing of the pressure, and he hinted that might itself cause added pressure. Go figure; it’s Toronto after all. And even though last year was last year, it sure won’t seem that way to fans or even make a difference.
In fact, Boudreau suggested – as do most Maple Leafs’ fans – winning during the regular season simply isn’t enough. The team has had regular-season success for quite a while now. It’s no longer satisfies and fan base that’s been frustrated for more than 50 years without a Stanley Cup. Instead, it’s what done in the playoffs that will count in most people’s minds.
Since November 20, 2019, after Keefe was hired, the Maple Leafs have played 103 regular-season games and 12 playoff games. As noted, the Maple Leafs’ regular-season record has been stellar. Since coach Keefe’s been in on the team’s bench, the team has logged a 62-29-12 record. That’s a total of 136 points and a great .660 winning percentage. (The highest for a coach in Maple Leafs’ history by the way.)
The regular season has been more than solid. However, the team’s playoff record has been less than solid – the Maple Leafs have logged a playoff record of 5-7. Obviously, they’ve lost every playoff series they’ve been in.
That’s where Boudreau noted the pressure would come in. First, the team must make the playoffs; and, then, they must do well during the playoffs. In short, it means playoff success in September, which translates into pressure all season long.
However, Boudreau noted that coaches understand the pressure is there, but they get immune to it after a while. Unless Boudreau noted, “they’re by themselves and at home and they’re thinking about it too much.” The task for a coach is to go out, do their job, and do it the best they can.
Boudreau noted that “Sheldon’s a really good coach.” Boudreau noted that Keefe would come through it, and he’ll just go through the things that he does. In the end, as many fans understand, the players are the ones who have the ability to get the job done. Boudreau believed that they’re (the players) the ones who are going to be the guys who “do it for you.”
Boudreau ended his interview by noting that “If I’m Sheldon, I’m not worried about it. I’m just gonna do my job.” As Boudreau noted, if you do worry about the pressure every minute, it’s going to affect you and also affect the way you make decisions. And, that’s not good. “You don’t want that to happen.”