Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Keefe, Milk, Engvall & Galchenyuk

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at what oddsmakers think Sheldon Keefe’s chances of surviving the season as the Maple Leafs head coach might be – not good, it seems. Second, I’ll look at the first ever corporate sponsorship that will find its way onto the Maple Leafs’ game jerseys this season.

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: Projected Lineup If Season Began Now

Third, I’ll look at recent news that at least two roster players – Pierre Engvall and Timothy Liljegren – are injured and might miss time as the season starts. Finally, I’ll share news that Alex Galchenyuk has signed a PTO with the Colorado Avalanche.

Item One: Sheldon Keefe, First NHL Coach to Be Fired?

How long will Sheldon Keefe continue to be the Maple Leafs’ head coach? Not long if you ask at least one oddsmaker. Yesterday, there was a report in the Globe & Mail that made Keefe the favorite to become the first NHL coach fired during the coming season. (from “With the new season approaching, the Maple Leafs’ familiar refrain has already begun,” Marty Klinkenberg, Globe & Mail, 20/09/2022).

Sheldon Keefe Toronto Maple Leafs
Sheldon Keefe, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Although I hear it often from readers of my posts – right after the call to fire general manager Kyle Dubas, such news comes out of left field. It would be easy to ask the question: “What does a guy have to do to keep a job?” However, everyone knows the answer. Win in the postseason.

Sign up for our regular 'Maple Leafs Newsletter' for all the latest.

If Keefe is canned, you’d have to think he’d land somewhere else quickly. Since he became the coach in November 2019, the team has had a record of 116-50-19 during the regular season. Keefe carries the highest franchise winning percentage (.678) of any coach in history. Last season, the team won 54 games and registered 115 points. Those were also team records.

Related: Zdeno Chara – 7 Cool Things About the Big Guy

Should Keefe and presumably Dubas be forced to leave the organization, watch out for the ultimate irony. What are the chances the twosome could land somewhere else together and win a Stanley Cup in that city well before the Maple Leafs win one in Toronto? 

Item Two: Jersey Logo Is Nothing But Spilled Milk 

There’s something new in NHL hockey this season. For the first time ever, there can be ads on player jerseys. Interestingly, the first-ever corporate sponsorship patch on Maple Leafs’ jerseys will be the Dairy Farmers of Ontario’s “Milk” logo. Who’d have thought?

Personally, I love it. Given the proliferation of corporate betting sites, I’d have guessed one of those might have stepped up for the opportunity. 

[As an aside, last week I was curious to watch a “free” Toronto Blue Jays game on Apple TV. Whenever a batter was in hitting, depending upon what happened, before the next pitch a note flashed on the screen that read something like “Odds of Bo Bichette striking out are 29%.” I had my first coffee today at 6:14. I’m sure someone somewhere lost money.]

Related: 7 Things About P.K. Subban

Already the Maple Leafs’ logo jokes are happening. One tweet had a photo of 1% and 2% milk in a grocery store refrigerator with the note underneath it “Maple Leafs’ chances to win this season’s Stanley Cup.”

The Maple Leafs announced the news yesterday. Every player will wear the Dairy Farmers logo – a stylized Milk — when they take the ice. This could become fun. 

Item Three: Pierre Engvall and Timothy Liljegren Will Miss Time

It looks as if both Pierre Engvall and Timothy Liljegren will miss some hockey this season because of nagging injuries. Recently, on an episode of The DFO Rundown, Frank Seravalli reported that Engvall has “been dealing with a little bit of an injury up-front. I think Pierre Engvall has been a little bit banged up this summer and may miss a little bit of time.”

Pierre Engvall Toronto Maple Leafs
Pierre Engvall, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Seravalli noted that it would be a way for the team to manage its salary-cap space for a short time; but, as he noted, it would be just kicking “the can down the road.” Should Engvall miss much time, the team would miss him in the lineup. 

Engvall had a career season in 2021-22 when he scored 15 goals and added 20 assists (for 35 points). But his real value was as a member of the shutdown third line with center David Kampf (and presumably this season’s newcomer Callie Jarnkrok). That line helped the team put out fires in the defensive zone.

Related: Maple Leaf’s Commentary: The Honeymoon’s Over for Dubas & Shanahan

It seems Engvall won’t be the only player who’ll miss time. It was also reported that Timothy Liljegren was expected to miss the Maple Leafs’ training camp with an undisclosed injury.

As Seravalli hinted, the team would have some time to see players it might have let leave to become salary-cap compliant for the opening game. In real terms, it might mean saving at least two players from facing immediate waivers as the team shaped its roster for opening night. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

For those fans who’ve been watching with curiosity to see where former Maple Leafs’ player Alex Galchenyuk would land, the answer came last night. He’ll be headed to Colorado. 

The 28-year-old Galchenyuk signed on and will be in the Avalanche’s training camp on a PTO (professional tryout). 

Alex Galchenyuk Arizona Coyotes
Alex Galchenyuk, when he was with the Arizona Coyotes (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Galchenyuk came to the Maple Leafs on Feb. 15, 2021, from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Egor Korshkov and defenseman David Warsofsky [both currently playing in Europe]. At first, he spent time with the Toronto Marlies, but when he was recalled to the Maple Leafs he played 26 games in the regular season and six of the team’s seven playoff games.