Montreal Canadiens: Sheldon Keefe Oddly Calls Out Habs After Losing to Lightning

TORONTO, ON - MAY 31: Corey Perry #94 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MAY 31: Corey Perry #94 of the Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens fans are often accused of having the Toronto Maple Leafs “living rent free in their heads” on social media. It is a common refrain thrown out on twitter when a Habs fan calls out the Maple Leafs or one of their players for poor play.

It is one thing for fans to debate each other and constantly bring up the other’s failures, but it isn’t something we often see from actual professionals or those involved in the games like players and coaches. Apparently, that isn’t the case for Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe.

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost in the first round again last year… I mean last night… well last year as well. And the year before that. And the year before that. And the year before that. And the year before that.

Of course, us Habs fans are in no position to poke fun at the Maple Leafs for losing in the first round for six straight seasons. Or are we? If the Maple Leafs head coach isn’t above calling out the Canadiens a year after the Canadiens beat the Maple Leafs, why can’t us common fans have a little fun at the Leafs expense?

Keefe didn’t exactly call out the Montreal Canadiens by name or any of their individual players. But he did make a very odd comment in the aftermath of yet another first round exit in a series that went their distance.

"“There was a lot of experience in that handshake line from the other team. It was a lot different from what we’ve experienced other times.” – Sheldon Keefe"

I’ve never heard a coach of an NHL team call out another team for a lack of respect in a handshake line, a full year after it happened and just after suffering yet another first round defeat. Maybe he was just trying to point out how respectful the Tampa Bay Lightning were, but to bring up other teams that have eliminated him in the first round, a list that includes the Canadiens and the Columbus Blue Jackets, is weird.

Milan Lucic once threatened to kill Alexei Emelin in the handshake line and the Canadiens defender just laughed it off and kept going. He did destroy Lucic with a couple of hip checks the next season, but he wasn’t whining about handshake lines a year later.

There certainly didn’t appear to be any animosity between the two rivals when the Canadiens thanked the Maple Leafs for coming out to their first round series in 2021. To bring it up a year after the fact is just mystifying.

Ahh, if we could just be like those classy Lightning that wore shirts saying they were $18 million over the salary cap last season when they beat the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.

It was an odd thing to hear from a coach immediately after losing in the first round. But, then again, perhaps Keefe and the Maple Leafs are just running out of things to say after being eliminated in a first round series.

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They do have an extraordinary amount of experience in this field. Or, perhaps the Canadiens really do live rent free in the minds of the Maple Leafs, including their head coach.