Expect Sheldon Keef to Have Lots of Success With the Devils

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

Former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has found a new home and it would be shocking if he doesn't find immediate success.

As much we like to criticize the Toronto Maple Leafs because they have not gotten the job done in the playoffs, Sheldon Keefe is a winner. After an injury cut his NHL career short, he began coaching and began to win. He piled up multiple titles with the Pembroke Lumber Kings before moving to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

After joining the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL, success continued. It never resulted in an OHL Championship, but the team improved every season and they were always one of the best teams in the league. If Keefe had continued to stay with the Greyhounds, there's no doubt he would have helped get the team over the finish line, but he had bigger fish to fry.

The one thing that I've always valued out of Kyle Dubas is his character and ability to value relationships. As a result, after hiring Keefe in the Soo, Dubas knew he was the man for the job with the Toronto Marlies, and he was right. That tandem had immediate success reaching three Conference Finals in four seasons, ultimately winning a Calder Cup.

Sheldon Keefe Will Bring Immediate Success to Devils

As someone who worked in the Marlies rink every single day, I saw the dedication that Keefe and Dubas put into that team and there's no doubt in my mind that they were the hardest working coach/GM tandem in the entire league. They had a vision and passion to win and that's exactly what they did before continuing that journey in the NHL.

I don't need to recap his entire time with the Leafs because we all know what happened, but all I'll say is this. During 4.5 years as the team's head coach, Keefe won, just like how he did with the Marlies, Greyhounds and Lumber Kings. I know it didn't translate into playoff success, but he coached a winning hockey team with a 212-97-40 record.

Regardless of how you do in the playoffs, that regular season record is incredible. A .663 winning percentage over five years is almost impossible in the NHL and it makes a ton of sense why the New Jersey Devils hired him only a few weeks after getting fired.

The Leafs didn't fire Keefe because of his coaching abilities, or because of the person he was. It was only because they needed a change. It's easy to say that you should trade every player and make huge changes as a result of your playoff failures, but those are way harder to do than firing one coach. By firing a coach, it's an easy fix and hopefully something that will light a fire under those players to be better.

The Devils have a similar core to the Leafs as they have Timo Meier, Jack Hughes, Jesper Bratt, Nico Hischier and Onrej Palat who are a mix of young/veteran stars. As a result, Keefe should know exactly what to do/not what to do, in order to help find success. The Devils are also missing a star goalie and their defense could be better, but they should be able to change that during free agency/trade.

As much as I'm sure players love living in Toronto, living in New York City and playing for the Devils is a pretty attractive factor, instead, so they should be able to recruit free agents. Not only that, but playing for Keefe should be another attractive piece, as he's a fantastic coach and will continue to have success, because that's just what he does.


Wherever Sheldon Keefe coaches, the team wins, and that won't change in New Jersey.