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Shanahan takes blame for early exits, Core 4 changes on the table


Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan took responsibility Friday for the team's continued failures in the postseason. 

"Our results in the playoffs have not been good enough. That's on me," Shanahan said.

Shanahan, alongside general manager Brad Treliving and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment CEO Keith Pelley, met with reporters one day after the team fired head coach Sheldon Keefe following his fourth opening-round exit in five years. 

Shanahan said he appreciated Keefe taking the blame for the playoff letdowns in Toronto, but said the "unacceptable" results are on him. He added that all options will be on the table this off-season as the Maple Leafs look to take a step forward. 

“We will look at everything this summer and will consider everything with the intention of making the Maple Leafs better and to win,” Shanahan said, declining to speak on the future of any specific players. 

Shanahan has continuously backed the team's "Core 4" throughout his time in Toronto, but struck a different tone on Friday, noting the time for patience may be at an end. Captain John Tavares and winger Mitch Marner are both entering the final seasons of their contracts after Treliving extended both Auston Matthews and William Nylander this season. 

"It has certainly become evident that we have to assess all of those things and assess if we have to do some very difficult things to make the team better," Shanahan said. 

Treliving, who also shouldered blame on Friday, said a change at head coach was necessary for the franchise. He echoed Shanahan's sentiment that all things will be considered in the coming months.

Pelley, who is four weeks into his role with MLSE, said he does not plan to speak regularly, but put a singular focus on the franchise winning on Friday.

"I am a thousand per cent committed to it," Pelley said of winning in Toronto. 

The Maple Leafs' season ended last week with a 2-1 overtime loss in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. Toronto went 46-26-10 in the regular season, finishing third in the Atlantic Division.

Pelley backs Shanahan as Maple Leafs president

The Maple Leafs are tied for the longest active playoff streak in the NHL at eight seasons. However, Toronto won its first playoff series since 2004 last spring, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games before falling to the Florida Panthers in five games in the second round. This season marked their seventh opening-round exit in eight years. 

Shanahan is coming off his 10th season with the Maple Leafs since being named president in 2014.

Pelley backed Shanahan in his role on Friday with his current contract believed to be set to expire next summer after signing a six-year extension in 2019.

"Brendan Shanahan is the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs," Pelley said. "He’s a champion. He’s a three-time Stanley Cup winner."

Treliving was hired last summer by Shanahan, replacing Kyle Dubas, who departed as the two sides failed to reach a contract extension. 

Keefe was fired on Thursday before his latest contract extension even kicked in. He was signed to a two-year extension last August, with his contract previously set to expire after this season. 

“Today’s decision was difficult. 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," Treliving said in a statement. "We thank Sheldon for his hard work and dedication to the organization over the last nine years, and wish him and his family all the very best.”

The team added that it "will immediately begin the search for a new head coach, and decisions regarding the remainder of the coaching staff will follow."

Treliving declined to comment on specific individuals being considered when asked Friday about the possibility of hiring Craig Berube. 


Treliving breaks down Maple Leafs injuries

On injuries sustained in the postseason, Treliving said Matthews was dealing with "a virus that stuck with him" after Game 2 and a head injury after Game 4. He returned in time for Game 7 once he was medically cleared. Bobby McMann was nearing a return from an MCL injury, Connor Dewar will have shoulder surgery on Friday and goaltender Joseph Woll suffered a sprained back at end of Game 6.

More details on the injury updates can be found here.