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The Toronto Maple Leafs relieved Sheldon Keefe of head-coaching duties on Thursday.

According to a statement from the club, a search for Keefe’s replacement will begin immediately.

“Today’s decision was difficult,” said Leafs’ general manager Brad Treliving. “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. 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.”

No determination has been made about the rest of Toronto’s coaching staff, which includes assistants Manny Malhotra, Dean Chynoweth and Guy Boucher.

Keefe has two years remaining on a contract extension Treliving signed him to in August, which doesn’t officially kick in until the 2024-25 season.

Treliving is scheduled to meet with the media alongside president Brendan Shanahan and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment CEO Keith Pelley on Friday.

Keefe was promoted to Toronto’s head-coaching role in November 2019 to replace the fired Mike Babcock. Keefe had previously been coach of the Leafs American Hockey League affiliate Toronto Marlies since 2015 and guided them to a Calder Cup championship in 2018.

Through 4½ NHL seasons, Keefe led the Leafs to a 212-97-40 record — with consecutive seasons of 50 or more wins — and playoff appearances in each full campaign. Toronto never found postseason success under Keefe though, bowing out of the first round in three of the past four seasons, including in this year’s first-round loss to Boston in Game 7 overtime.

That defeat in particular appeared to seal Keefe’s fate. The Leafs were down 3-1 in the series and battled back to force a decisive final contest, but Toronto’s perennial underachievement forced management into making a change.

This is the first major adjustment for Treliving since he joined Toronto’s staff last May. Shanahan had parted ways with former GM Kyle Dubas — who originally hired Keefe to replace Babcock after also bringing Keefe to the organization when he was GM of the Marlies’ prior to that — and introduced Treliving in the role shortly after. Treliving opted to extend Keefe before last season began, touting Keefe’s “clear vision and direction for where the team needs to go.”

Now the hunt for Keefe’s successor will get underway in what could be a busy offseason for the Leafs. Toronto has key skaters including Auston Matthews and William Nylander signed to long-term contracts. They want to capitalize on that core with success right now, particularly in the playoffs. The other pieces of the Leafs’ designated Core Four — Mitch Marner and John Tavares — will be entering the final year of their current deals this season. Both would be eligible to sign extensions in Toronto on July 1.

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U.S. advances at hockey worlds; Canada now 6-0

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U.S. advances at hockey worlds; Canada now 6-0

PRAGUE — Dylan Cozens scored two goals and had an assist to rally Canada past Switzerland 3-2 for its sixth win in six games at the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.

Canada leads Group A with 17 points, two more than the Czech Republic in second with Switzerland another point back in third. The three teams had already clinched a spot in the playoff round.

Cozens has scored six goals at the tournament and is tied atop the scoring table with American Brady Tkachuk and Finland’s Oliver Kapanen.

Nick Paul also scored for Canada and goaltender Jordan Binnington made 20 saves including a penalty shot in the second period when the score was 2-2.

Cozens found the roof of the net on a power play 1:42 into the game to give Canada an early lead.

Switzerland answered with two goals.

Kevin Fiala wristed an equalizer past Binnington in the opening frame on a power play.

Romain Loeffel put the Swiss 2-1 up in the middle period with a slap shot from the blue line.

Cozens tied it again at 2-2 from the top of the left circle on a power play.

Paul scored the winner for Canada on a power play, completing a series of passes by scoring into an open goal midway through the second.

Canada will complete the preliminary round on Tuesday against the Czech Republic, when Switzerland will face Finland.

In Group B, Latvia prevailed over Slovakia 3-2 in a penalty shootout. The result sent the United States to the next round.

Tkachuk scored three power play goals and added an assist to help the United States rout Kazakhstan 10-1.

Its fourth victory lifted the Americans to second place in Group B with 13 points, one ahead of Germany and Slovakia with a game against Latvia, which has nine points, on Tuesday to play in the preliminary round.

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and four assists to become the United States record scorer with 43 points, one more than Patrick Kane.

Matt Boldy scored twice and had four assists, Brock Nelson and Luke Kunin both had a goal and an assist, and Gavin Brindley and Kevin Hayes also scored.

Alex Nedeljkovic made 13 saves.

In a four-goal opening period, Tkatchuk tipped in a shot by Zach Werenski on a power play to increase the U.S. lead to 2-0, and buried a rebound to make it 4-0 on a power play.

He completed his hat trick to increase the advantage to 8-0 with a one-timed shot from the right circle on another power play in the final period.

Alikhan Omirbekov scored the consolation goal for Kazakhstan when his team was 9-0 down.

In Group A, Austria beat Norway 4-1 and is tied for fourth place with Finland.

The top four from each group advance to the playoff round.

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Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7

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Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7

Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser is not expected to play in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday because of a blood-clotting issue, a source told ESPN, confirming a report.

There’s no timeline for his return to action. The Canucks had no comment on Boeser’s status.

Boeser didn’t skate in practice Sunday. Coach Rick Tocchet would only say at a media availability that “he needed the maintenance day.”

Boeser, 27, leads the Canucks in goals (7) and is tied for the lead in points (12) during the postseason. He established career highs in goals (40), points (73) and games played (81) during the regular season.

The Canucks winger has had some MVP moments during their playoff run. His hat trick in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators led them to a comeback win. Boeser’s three points in the first period of Game 3 led Vancouver to a win over Edmonton.

It’s the second significant injury for Vancouver in the playoffs after a regular season of relatively good health for the team’s core players. Starting goaltender Thatcher Demko, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best netminder, hasn’t played since Game 1 of the first round because of a knee injury. Edmonton won Game 6 at home Saturday night to force Monday’s Game 7, the only seventh game of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner faces the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals.

The Boeser injury news was first reported by Vancouver-based hockey journalist Irfaan Gaffar.

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Canes re-sign Brind’Amour off latest playoff run

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Canes re-sign Brind'Amour off latest playoff run

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed coach Rod Brind’Amour and his staff to multiyear contracts, keeping one of the best in the NHL behind the bench around for the long term.

The team announced the re-signings Sunday for Brind’Amour, assistants Jeff Daniels and Tim Gleason, goaltending coach Paul Schonfelder and video coach Chris Huffine.

“Rod has been instrumental to the success we’ve had over the last six seasons,” team president and general manager Don Waddell said. “Ever since he joined the organization 24 years ago, Rod has embodied what it means to be a Hurricane. We hope to keep him a Hurricane for life.”

Brind’Amour was in the final year of a deal reached in 2021, when he was the winner of the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach. His status had become a talking point around the NHL as jobs changed hands, though Brind’Amour — as well as Waddell — had expressed confidence that a deal would get done.

“I never had a doubt in my mind he [would] come back,” Carolina center Sebastian Aho said earlier in the day when asked about the reports of a deal. “Not surprised, I would say.”

Brind’Amour took over in 2018 to lead a franchise that had missed the playoffs for nine straight years. The Hurricanes have gone to the playoffs six times in as many seasons under the captain of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup winner. Carolina has also won at least one series in each of the past six postseasons, marking the first time a team has accomplished that since the Detroit Red Wings did it from 1995 to 2000. The Canes also reached the Eastern Conference finals twice in the past six seasons.

Carolina finished three points behind the New York Rangers for the Metropolitan Division title and Presidents’ Trophy (presented to the league’s top regular-season team), another season in which it ranked among the NHL’s top teams with an aggressive forechecking style.

The Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders in five games in Round 1 then lost to the Rangers in a six-game second-round series after falling in a 3-0 hole.

Brind’Amour, 53, arrived in Raleigh in a January 2000 trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and played there until his retirement in 2010. He then spent seven seasons as an assistant coach before taking over as a first-time head coach.

Multiple players were asked earlier Sunday about Brind’Amour’s status during end-of-season interviews. None expressed concern that he wouldn’t return or that it had been any type of distraction.

“He’s one of the main pieces that turned this organization around from where it was when I first got here,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “So I think anyone would want him to stay as well. I know he wants to be here. I’m confident it’ll get done.”

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