Former Leafs Coach Sheldon Keefe Could Have Job Lined Up

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired Shelden Keefe on Wednesday but he might have a job waiting with the New Jersey Devils.

Getty The Toronto Maple Leafs fired Shelden Keefe on Wednesday but he might have a job waiting with the New Jersey Devils.

Not even a week after getting fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Sheldon Keefe might already have a new job lined up and waiting for him.

Following Keefe’s firing on Thursday, May 9, and knowing the coach had a two-year contract extension set to start next season, the New Jersey Devils had to ask the Maple Leafs for permission to enter negotiations with their former coach.

The Devils received permission from the Leafs to start talks with Keefe on Friday, May 10, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun.

Keefe is available for hire after getting axed earlier this week while the Devils are looking for a new coach after the departure of interim coach Travis Green, whom the Ottawa Senators hired as their head coach for the 2024-25 season on Tuesday, May 7.

When it comes to open NHL benches, the Devils are one of six teams yet to hire a head coach ahead of next season with the Leafs, the San Jose Sharks, the Winnipeg Jets, the Seattle Kraken, and the Los Angeles Kings still having openings to fill.

Sheldon Keefe From Toronto to the New Jersey Devils?

The Toronto Maple Leafs moved Sheldon Keefe to the bench back in November 2019 after firing then-coach Mike Babcock. Before taking over the head coach role with the Leafs, Keefe had spent four seasons coaching their AFL affiliate.

On May 9, the Maple Leafs announced the team had fired Keefe after five seasons with the team.

“Today’s decision was difficult. 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,” General Manager Brad Treliving wrote in a statement.

Keefe reached the playoffs four consecutive years starting that run in the 2020-21 season and keeping it alive through this season.

Ultimately, however, the Leafs could only win one postseason round in those four years falling way short of expectations each and every time under the guidance of Keefe.

Keefe left Toronto posting an extraordinary 212-97-40 regular-season record but a rather paltry 16-21 postseason win-loss balance, topping at five wins in the 2023 season when the Leafs advanced to the second round but failed to win more than one single game in that round.

New Jersey Devils Navigating Retool Ahead of Next Season

One year after completing an impressive regular season in which the Devils posted 112 points, New Jersey could only amass 81 this season while failing to make the playoffs.

The Devils fired Lindy Ruff on March 4 and named Travis Green the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. In his brief spell on the bench of New Jersey, Green went 8-12-1 in 21 games but the franchise could only finish 13th place in the Eastern Conference standings.

There were some rumors about Green getting an extension and being promoted to the head coach position in New Jersey. GM Tom Fitzgerald discussed that possibility in his end-of-season availability before letting Green go to Ottawa to become the head coach of the Senators.

“Travis will be (interviewed) as well, but I want to take my time with this because I have specific boxes that I want checked,” Fitzgerald said on April 18. The next coach has to be an excellent communicator, someone who wants to collaborate with all different areas of the organization and understands where I think the team needs to get to.”

The Devils made the playoffs in 2023 and they beat the New York Rangers coming back from a 1-3 deficit to send their neighbors out of the postseason. After that, however, New Jersey suffered the same fate at the hands of the Hurricanes as they fell 1-4 to Carolina in the second round last year.

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