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Throwing Maple Leafs history out the window tonight and trading coaches: Leaflets

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 month ago
It’s Game 7 time. I’m not sure much more preamble is required than that. Try to enjoy the anxiety-ridden day in front of you. Here are a pair of stray thoughts:

History doesn’t matter tonight

The fact that few teams come back from 3-1 deficits in a series doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that the Leafs have struggled against the Bruins in their playoff meetings. It doesn’t matter that Toronto hasn’t won a Game 7 in over two decades. 1967 doesn’t matter. Tonight is do-or-die, single-elimination hockey, and all that matters is the 60 minutes of fate-driven hockey. Tomorrow the Leafs will either be blowing it up or immediately preparing to slay their next dragon, the Florida Panthers.
There is something beautifully simple about Game 7 hockey. Something chaotic. And most importantly there is something hopeful. The Leafs could just as easily come out of this game as victors as the Bruins.
Tonight is all feelings. Two cities of tense humourless assholes living and dying on every missed penalty. Playoff hockey at its best.

Sullivan for Keefe, who says no?

It seems premature to establish the fate of Sheldon Keefe when the Maple Leafs playoff adventures stop. And after attempting some optimism of late I am certainly not saying that this is something the Leafs will be dealing with tomorrow but there is some very interesting talk coming out of Pittsburgh that was worth a double-take.
Mutually agree to a trade of coaches is an interesting concept and when Sheldon Keefe has been riding shotgun for Dubas every opportunity they get it feels like Leafs fans should at least entertain the idea of Mike Sullivan as a coach. Stanley Cup champion Mike Sullivan as a coach. Sidney Crosby endorsed Mike Sullivan as a coach.
I am reluctant to fully go all-in on the idea that Kevin Weekes is suggesting but Dubas as gone the unconventional route before and in a situation where he has an upset coach that his organization might not want to pay out and the Leafs potentially wanting to move on from Sheldon Keefe but would like to avoid paying people to not coach for them, the match is there.
What seems far more likely is that Sidney Crosby will try to work with Sullivan on having him stay. He might be kicking rocks right now about a key member of his coaching staff being sent out, but I’d wager that most coaches don’t choose unemployment and most don’t choose to coach the Leafs unless they can negotiate a pay raise. It is an interesting idea though and if somehow Mike Sullivan is available, it would be crazy for the Leafs to not pursue him.
As for Sheldon Keefe’s path to Pittsburgh, well… if the Leafs are moving on from him it seems that an Associate Coach role on the Penguins where he can develop under Mike Sullivan might be a good fit for him as well. I can’t imagine Mike Sullivan being thrilled about the reminder of who will be calling the shots once his contract is up hanging out on the bench with him and having closed door meetings with the GM, but it seems unlikely that if there isn’t a head coaching offer for Keefe somewhere that he doesn’t land in Pittsburgh as a coach, advisor, consultant, whatever.
At least for the next few hours, Keefe is the coach and hopefully he spends his time with the Leafs making his detractors regret trying to push him out the door. After that the discussion can continue about how the NHL coaching market seems like has the potential for luring high end talent this summer.

ICYMI:

Two down, one to go: The Leafs have one final dragon to slay by Alex Hobson
Keefe raves about Leafs surviving consecutive elimination games by Arun Srinivasan
Matthew Knies is displaying the clutch gene early in his career by Alex Hobson
Maple Leafs sign Nikita Grebyonkin to 3-year deal by Arun Srinivasan
Friedman: “This is the end of this group (Core 4) if Leafs don’t pull off a big comeback” by Alex Hobson
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