Devils tab Sheldon Keefe as head coach

League: NHL

Posted on: 23 May, 2024 at 04:33 PM

Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The New Jersey Devils made the hiring of Sheldon Keefe as their next head coach official on Thursday.

Keefe landed on the radar of the Devils once he was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 9, five days after an overtime loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of a first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.

"This was an invigorating process for me, having met with many qualified candidates and hearing how attractive this position was to them," Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said Thursday. "Sheldon jumped to the top of my list when he became available, and I was thrilled when he agreed to be a part of what we are building here. He is an excellent communicator, believes in collaboration, and will take what he has learned previously to make this team a Stanley Cup contender."

The Devils finished 38-39-5 and seventh in the Metropolitan Division in 2023-24. Coach Lindy Ruff was fired on March 4 and replaced by interim coach Travis Green.

The Devils believe they have the building blocks to success in place, however, with five 20-goal scorers during this season -- Timo Meier (28), Jack Hughes (27), Jesper Bratt (27), captain Nico Hischier (27) and Dawson Mercer (20).

"This is an exciting time, and I'm honored to be a member of the Devils' organization," Keefe said. "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."

Keefe, 43, left Toronto with a 212-97-40 record (.607) in 349 regular-season games since taking over in November 2019.

His winning percentage in the postseason wasn't as good (.432), with the Maple Leafs qualifying for the playoffs each season under Keefe but going 16-21. Toronto advanced out of the first round only once during his tenure, losing in the second round last spring, despite three 100-point seasons.

This season, the Maple Leafs totaled 102 points, finishing third in the Atlantic Division with a 46-26-10 record.

Keefe was the head coach of the club's American Hockey League team, the Toronto Marlies, for five seasons before moving to the Maple Leafs' bench.

--Field Level Media