NHL Rumors: How the New Jersey Devils Landed Sheldon Keefe

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun joined Jay Onrait on SportsCenter and discussed how the New Jersey Devils landed former Maple Leafs Head Coach Sheldon Keefe as their next head coach.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

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Jay Onrait: “Hey, Sheldon Keefe. This is wild. I thought maybe go away for a couple of years. He chill for a little bit. He collects that Leafs paycheck. But he’s, according to you and Darren Dreger, he is going to be the next head coach of the New Jersey Devils and before people say well, what about that two-year contract?

Well, I believe that’s gonna be ripped up, and we’ll get a nice new four-year contract with the Devils. So it’s gonna work out for Keefe, but it is kind of funny because you’re going from one team with high-end talent, and iffy goaltending to another team with high-end talent, and iffy goaltending. Why did he decide to take the Devils job?”

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Pierre LeBrun: “Well, certainly the Devils aim to fix that. I think they’ll try to reignite talks about Jacob Markstrom, but we’ll talk about that another time trade talks with Calgary because they do need to upgrade their goaltending.

This was a really fascinating thing. You may remember the day that Sheldon Keefe got fired by the Leafs. We reported that the Devils immediately picked up the phone and asked the Leafs permission to speak with Sheldon Keefe which they were granted by the Leafs but it wasn’t that easy.

I mean, the Devils really have to stay at this because I think for Sheldon Keefe this was you know, he really took this hard this firing. And I think he really needed to decompress a bit before wrapping his mind around whether or not he could jump back in and give this what needs to be given to be a head coach again.

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And my understanding is that the Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald has stayed at it, stayed at it, stayed at it. Remember, the Devils interviewed a number of candidates. They had a couple with Craig Berube coupled with Todd McLellan. They went deep with Jay Woodcroft. They had a few other candidates that they interviewed. But they kept waiting to see if Sheldon Keefe would be open to this idea. And ultimately, he was and you’re right yeah, I mean, Sheldon Keefe could have stayed out at least a year.

He had a two-year extension come up with the Leafs, but the Devils rip that up and give him a fresh four-year deal. And you can read into that a raise in what he would have got on that two-year extension with the Leafs and I think it, I’ve talked to other coaches around the league the Devils are one of those spots, Jay, that they’re just primed for a bounce back.

This is a team that was over 100 points two years ago. The big injury to Dougie Hamilton, the pressure of expectations, and Jack Hughes in and out of the lineup. This is a bounce-back team. Certainly, they can fix their goaltending, and I think Sheldon Keefe should be a great fit there.”