Former Leafs boss Sheldon Keefe lands head coach role in New Jersey

May 23, 2024 | Headlines, Sports

Two weeks ago, Sheldon Keefe found himself without a job after being relieved of his head coaching duties by the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 9.

Now Keefe has found himself in a new role after the New Jersey Devils announced they hired him to fill their vacant head coach position.

The Devil’s head coaching job became available after the team fired Lindy Ruff midseason on March 4, naming Travis Green as his interim replacement, who then took the head coaching position with the Ottawa Senators this off-season.

The Devils finished second-to-last in the Metropolitan division this season with 81 points missing the playoffs after making a strong run to the playoffs the year prior with 112 points, good for second in their division.

The team teased the news on their X (formerly Twitter) account early Thursday morning with one word, Bazinga, supposedly about the common catchphrase of sit-com character Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.

An official announcement of Keefe’s hiring was made minutes later by the organization through an official statement.

Devils Managing Partner David Blitzer said in a statement he was thrilled with the decision to bring Keefe on staff.

“Finding the right coach to lead this team was our top priority, and Sheldon impressed us during every step of the interview process,” Blitzer said.

Devils General Manager Tom Fitzgerald shared in Blitzer’s excitement and said Keefe was the right fit after an extensive coaching search.

“He is an excellent communicator, believes in collaboration, and will take what he has learned previously to make this team a Stanley Cup contender,” Fitzgerald said.

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Keefe took to X on Thursday morning to announce his new gig.

“Speak of the Devil…Let’s Go, New Jersey,” Keefe said on X.

With a new opportunity ahead of him, Keefe said he was eager to accept the position when it was presented.

“This was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down,” Keefe said via the official team statement.

“To have the chance to lead this young, dynamic team and to see the potential that can still be unlocked is all very attractive for me,” he said.

Keefe spent the last five seasons as the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, earning a record of 212-97-40. But he only managed to win a single playoff series in his time in Toronto posting a 16-21 record in 37 playoff games.

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While the Leafs job was his first NHL head coaching position, he previously coached professionally with Toronto’s AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies from 2015-2019, guiding them to a Calder Cup Championship in 2018.

He also held various coaching roles in junior hockey before his pro coaching career, including a three-year stint, from 2012 to 2014, with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The team said an introductory press conference for Keefe will take place on Tuesday, May 28.