NHL Maple Leafs fire Keefe as coach after first-round exit

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Toronto Maple Leafs;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Toronto Maple Leafs</a> head coach Sheldon Keefe, center, was fired by the NHL club after the team was ousted by <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Boston;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Boston</a> in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs (Joel Auerbach)

Sheldon Keefe was fired as head coach of the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, five days after the club was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Boston Bruins.

The Maple Leafs. who have not won the NHL crown since 1967, were ousted with a 2-1 overtime loss at Boston in game seven of their best-of-seven Eastern Conference first round series.

The Leafs have won only one playoff series since 2004, defeating Tampa Bay in last year's first round.

"Today’s decision was difficult," Leafs general manager Brad Treliving said. "Sheldon is an excellent coach and a great man; however, we determined a new voice is needed to help the team push through to reach our ultimate goal."

The organization has started the search for a new head coach.

Keefe went 212-97 with 40 overtime losses in five seasons guiding the Maple Leafs, with the club setting a team record with 115 points by going 54-21-7 in the 2021-22 campaign.

The 43-year-old Canadian had spent five seasons as coach of the Leafs' top development club before replacing the fired Mike Babcock in November 2019. Upon his arrival, Keefe's Leafs went 15-4-1, the best 20-game start of any coach in the Leafs' history, which dates to 1917.

Toronto went 46-26-10 this past season, third in the Atlantic division.

Only once in their past 14 playoff games have the Leafs scored more than two goals, including 1-for-21 futility on the power play against Boston despite having NHL season goals leader Auston Matthews, who netted 69, and William Nylander, who added 40 goals for Toronto.

"We're in the results business here, and we didn't get results," Keefe said on Monday. "We haven't met expectations and as head coach I take responsibility for that."