Crease out, the Maple Leafs have some serious holes to fill

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
6 months ago
If there’s one thing that can be learned from the latest Maple Leafs loss to an inferior opponent, it’s that Ilya Samsonov should be nowhere close to a National Hockey League crease for the foreseeable future.
At this point, Brad Treliving has no choice, especially after the pointed comments – and rightfully so – from his head coach following Friday night’s 6-5 OT loss in Columbus.
Samsonov has gone full Jack Campbell in Edmonton, and with Joseph Woll nowhere close to returning, the Leafs have no choice but to do something immediately.
Having said all that, it’s downright deplorable to place all the blame solely on Samsonov. Yes, he’s been disgustingly terrible this season, but it’s not like the Leafs have performed like an All-Star team in front of their two other netminders.
Any way you slice it, the first 33 games of the 2023-24 campaign have left a lot to be desired. It’s been a mixed bag with a fair share of head scratching performances. They’ve been consistently inconsistent. Unfortunately, this recent surge of porous netminding by Samsonov has caused many to lose sight of that.
In professional sports, the head coach is almost always the scapegoat, and Sheldon Keefe will be no different. Ultimately, his job is probably safe until the Stanley Cup Playoffs —assuming this team gets there. Unquestionably, though, it would be understandable for many surrounding the team – whether they execute the decision or not – to ponder if a coaching change could help give the team the jolt it so desperately needs. After all, Keefe was Kyle Dubas’ guy, not Treliving’s choice. Furthermore, there are certainly more than a handful of potential names out there that could and would make a lot of sense. But again, that’s probably a spring-time decision contingent on how they fare in the postseason. Rest assured, there will be a lot of moving parts.
Then there’s the current general manager, who obviously shouldn’t be devoid of some blame in this situation. Nevertheless, facts are facts, and he did inherit quite a bit of baggage – including the head coach – from the previous administration. Aside from a bit of cap flexibility last summer, he hasn’t really been equipped with many resources to fix some of the team’s lingering issues.
And so, with one game remaining in 2023, the Leafs have reached yet another fork in the road.
Will they continue to turn a blind eye to some of their glaring deficiencies, or has the time come for Brad Treliving to stick his neck out and make a bold decision?

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