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Maple Leafs to retain coach, GM after 6th straight first-round exit

May 14, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;  Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (77) shakes hands with Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe after Tampa Bay defeated Toronto in game seven of the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

A sixth straight first-round playoff exit will not lead to the dismissals of Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas or coach Sheldon Keefe, team president Brendan Shanahan said Tuesday.

The Maple Leafs notched a franchise-record 115 points in the regular season but opened the Stanley Cup playoffs with a seven-game series loss to the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

Toronto held a 3-2 series lead before losing the final two games, each by one goal.

“We’re not going to make any excuses,” Shanahan said three days after the Game 7 setback. “I thought our players battled hard, I thought that they played well, and they lost to a great hockey team. As players, management and ownership, we share in everybody’s frustration in not getting the job done.

“Certainly, as we look forward to next year, there’s always going to be new faces. That being said, we will not be making changes just simply for the sake of saying we made changes.”

Keefe, who has coached the Maple Leafs for 2 1/2 seasons, guided the club to a stellar 54-21-7 record in the regular season.

Dubas has been general manager for the past four seasons and Toronto has finished more than 10 games above .500 in each of his campaigns. He was the assistant GM the previous four seasons.

“I think that Kyle built a very good hockey team,” Shanahan said of Dubas. “I think he made excellent adjustments along the way, and I think Sheldon is an excellent coach. As we look forward to next year, and getting to work towards next year, I think it’s important to state that I see both of them as being extremely important in getting us to the next level, so that when we do approach next year, and we do come back, that we are ready to take that next step.

“As Kyle said to the players today, the work for next year begins right now. And I look forward to getting to work with Kyle and Sheldon for next season.”

Toronto hasn’t won a playoff series since the 2003-04 season.

–Field Level Media