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Maple Leafs coach: “Joel Quenneville would certainly be interested”.
Credit: Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images

On Thursday morning, the Maple Leafs confirmed what (pretty much) everyone expected: Sheldon Keefe will not be back at the helm of the team next year. The coach, whose two-year contract extension hasn’t even begun, was fired after the club’s first-round elimination.

He delivered a classy message following his dismissal, and it’s safe to say that he could be back on his feet in no time (possibly with the Devils), but he won’t be in Toronto in 2024-25.

The question now is who will be in charge of the Maple Leafs next year. Craig Berube is a name that’s been bandied about, but clearly, the coach will have to be successful in the playoffs.

But there’s another name floating around: Joel Quenneville. And according to Nick Alberga, Quennevile would “certainly be interested” in the job if it were offered to him.

It should be remembered, however, that he is not currently eligible to coach. Gary Bettman has to give him permission before he can return (in much the same way as Logan Mailloux did, basically).

Quenneville, who resigned as Panthers coach in October 2021, has not been allowed to coach in the NHL since the Kyle Beach story came to light. At the time, Quenneville was coach of the Blackhawks, and seeing his name associated with all this forced him to step down.

So, if the Maple Leafs are going to go after Quenneville, it’s going to be a hire they won’t be unanimous about. In fact, it’s likely to resemble the Mike Babcock signing with the Blue Jackets last summer… except this time, instead of the small Columbus market, it will be under the gaze of the monstrous Toronto market.

Clearly not an ideal situation.

But despite everything, he seems to have the support of certain members of the media. In addition to Alberga, Steve Simmons has penned a column in which he explains why Quenneville is the right man for the job, while Andy Strickland considers him “the best option to get Toronto out of its slump”.

I have to admit that I have a hard time imagining a world in which the Leafs would opt for a hire that would ultimately be controversial. Right now, by the way, no club has contacted the NHL about Quenneville (although there’s still time for things to change, obviously).

Whether you think he deserves to come back or not, I find it hard to believe that he wouldn’t be a ticking time bomb in Toronto given the market situation. I could be wrong, but if it didn’t work out for Babcock in Columbus…

In brief

– Cole Caufield gets his first Worlds point.

– For early risers.


– Sad news.

– Blue Jays name to watch?

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