Keefe agrees to two-year extension as coach of Maple Leafs

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Sheldon Keefe has agreed to a two-year contract extension to remain coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Keefe would be signed through the 2023-24 season. He will coach this season on the final year of his contract.

The 41-year-old is 62-29-12 since replacing Mike Babcock during the 2019-20 season. The Maple Leafs have lost their first postseason series in each of Keefe’s two seasons.

Asked about his job security at training camp, Keefe told Sportsnet, “There hasn’t been a day when I’ve thought about it. There also hasn’t been a day when I don’t recognize the responsibility that I have toward our fans, our ownership and our team.

“I don’t think there’s anything [new] there in terms of the demands or the pressure. I knew exactly what I was getting into, and I accept the responsibility that comes with that.”

Toronto was 35-14-7 last season and as the No. 1 seed from the Scotia North Division were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup First Round, losing the final three games of the best-of-7 series.

The Maple Leafs were 27-15-5 under Keefe the season prior, rising from fifth place to third in the Atlantic Division after a 9-10-4 start with Babcock. They were eliminated in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers in five games by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“He’s been great,” Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly told Sportsnet. “‘Keefer,’ he lets guys play, but he also has a very strict structure. He balances that extremely well, and that’s important.”

Toronto has not advanced in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2003-04 and has not won the Stanley Cup since 1966-67.

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