Top 3 Leafs individuals who should take the most heat for yet another first round exit

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Alberga
1 month ago
The post-mortem is underway on yet another disappointing conclusion to a Maple Leafs season.
Admittedly, the pain feels a bit different this time around. It’s probably because of what the team was able to put together following their complete no-show in Game 4. They trailed 3-1 in the series to their arch nemesis without their best player, and somehow, someway, they battled back to force OT in Game 7.
Having said all that though, at the end of the day, they lost, which means they failed. The Stanley Cup is the end game, and ultimately, the team came very short of their objective.
With that in mind, here are three individuals who are bound to take the most heat for this:

Mitch Marner

Any way you slice it, the 27-year-old is paid to produce, and as has been the case in the past, he was unable to rise to the occasion offensively. Marner finished the series with one goal, two assists, and 12 shots on goal. On top of that, he was unable to adapt his game accordingly to be a consistent contributor in other facets of the game. For all intents and purposes, he was an afterthought for a good chunk of the series. Most importantly, he’s eligible for a contract extension this summer, and by all accounts, he’s expected to be seeking a deal that’s bigger than the one William Nylander inked in January. Yeah, good luck with that. Simply put, the writing could be on the wall. Understandably so, he’s going to wear a lot of this.

Sheldon Keefe

Once the dust settles, it’s hard to envision a scenario that doesn’t involve the Leafs moving on from the guy who’s been at the forefront of this operation for the past ten years. In pro sports, the head coach is the easiest scapegoat. In a results-oriented business, the numbers speak for themselves. The Leafs have won one playoff series under Keefe. He’s had different assistants and different players, and unfortunately, nothing really changes. It could be time to go in a new direction, and as of right now, it would make an abundance of sense to see the Leafs make a coaching change. You can’t fire an entire team.

Brendan Shanahan

In 10 seasons as the president of the hockey club, the Leafs have won one playoff series. Throughout his tenure, Toronto’s had three different general managers and three different head coaches. That’s not including Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis, whom Shanahan canned shortly after getting the gig. On top of all that, he’s mindlessly tripled and quadrupled down on a core and personnel that haven’t been able to get the job done. It’s been the definition of insanity. With Keith Pelley being ushered in as the new president & CEO of MLSE, it’s reasonable to suggest that Shanahan’s employment could be under review.

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