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NHL Notebook: As Leafs fire Keefe, teams express interest in Mitch Marner

Sheldon Keefe Mitch Marner
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
1 month ago
There is news aplenty around the National Hockey League.
It looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs will be shaking up the organization after losing another Game 7 in round one. One move has already been made: Sheldon Keefe’s firing, and one of their core four could also be moved.
We also have IIHF news, and the Utah team is looking at potential names for the recently relocated team.

Sheldon Keefe fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs

There have been a lot of coaching changes in the past year or so, and now it’s the Toronto Maple Leafs turn to do so, as they fired Sheldon Keefe on Thursday morning.
Hired during the 2019-20 season, Keefe spent parts of five seasons behind the bench for the Leafs, posting a 212-97-40 record. However, playoffs were always a difficult task for the Leafs, as they were 16-21 with Keefe as the bench boss, but they eventually won the daunting first round.
Numerous names are floating around for Keefe’s replacement, including former Oiler head coach Jay Woodcroft, who was fired after a 2-9-1 start. Other coaches include Craig Berube, Bruce Boudreau, Gerad Gallant, and Todd McLellan.
The new coach will have to deal with what could be a new-look Maple Leaf roster. Why? Well…

Teams are calling about Mitch Marner

According to Nick Kypreos, teams have been calling about Mitch Marner, one of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ core players.
Marner had a great 2023-24 season, scoring 26 goals and 85 points in 69 games and was on pace for 100+ points for his third consecutive season. Sadly for Marner, “on pace” doesn’t mean he’s a century point scorer, as he’s fallen just short of the mark several times in his career, hitting 99 points in 2022-23, 97 points in 72 games during the 2021-22 season, and 94 points in 2018-19.
It also doesn’t help that Marner didn’t have a great playoff series in 2024. He scored a goal and three points in what was his worst scoring performance in eight postseasons. Interestingly, his three goals and 14 points in the 2023 postseason were his best performance.
With all that being said, it’s pretty clear that the Leafs need to make a shakeup, especially given how weak their defence core is aside from Morgan Rielly. Marner has a full no-move clause and will make $10.903-million until the end of next season.

Utah surveying team names

It seems like the recently moved Arizona Coyotes will go by “Utah” on their jerseys for the 2024-25 season. However, owner Ryan Smith released a poll with 20 names for the team, who’ll rebrand before the 2025-26 season.
Below are the names that could be chosen:
Utah Blast
Utah Powder
Utah Mammoth
Utah Mountaineers
Utah Black Diamonds
Utah Swarm
Utah Yeti
Utah Caribou
Utah Frost
Utah Venom
Utah Squall
Utah Outlaws
Utah Hive
Utah Freeze
Utah Fury
Utah HC
Utah Glaciers
Utah Canyons
Utah Blizzard
Utah Ice
My favourite is Utah Hockey Club, which reminds me of traditional European Football clubs, simple yet classy. If you exclude that and make me choose a traditional North American name, the best option here is “Outlaws.”
As long as they aren’t named the “Utah Glaciers” or “Utah Canyons”, that’s fine with me.

Tkachuk named captain of Team USA

The IIHF World Championship starts on Friday, and Team USA has announced its leadership group. Ottawa Senators forward Brady Tkachuk gets the C, while the alternate captains will be New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson, Chicago Blackhawks defenceman Seth Jones, and Columbus Blue Jackets defenceman Zach Werenski.
This isn’t the first team Tkachuk has been the captain of, as the 24-year-old is the current captain of the Ottawa Senators, scoring a career-high 37 goals along with 74 points, leading the team in both categories.
The United States will open their season against Team Sweden on Friday in Group B action. Their group features Germany, Slovakia, France, Poland, Kazakhstan, and Latvia, with the latter defeating the United States in the Bronze medal game.
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