How will Sheldon Keefe change the Maple Leafs? Mates and foes weigh in

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The information was not completely sudden, however the future is now in Toronto, the place Sheldon Keefe has changed Mike Babcock as coach of the Maple Leafs. The highlight will likely be searing on the 39-year-old, so who’s Keefe? Speaking to each pals and foes of the previous AHL Marlies coach, he’s a man that gamers wish to win with.
“I’m ecstatic for Keefer,” stated Marlies proper winger Jeremy Bracco. “He groomed me and gave me an opportunity to blossom on this league and I like to provide plenty of credit score for the issues I’ve achieved to him. He’s a man you wish to play for and also you undergo a wall for a man like that. He’s sincere, he’s obtained his gamers’ backs and he’s plenty of enjoyable to be round on the rink.”
For the previous 4 seasons, Keefe has been helming the Marlies and helped flip them right into a drive. Toronto received the Calder Cup championship in 2018 with a quick roster that included future Maple Leafs resembling Andreas Johnsson (MVP of the playoffs), Travis Dermott, Frederik Gauthier, Trevor Moore, Dmytro Timashov and Pierre Engvall, to not point out Carl Grundstrom, who now performs for Los Angeles. The Marlies made the convention ultimate once more final yr earlier than falling to the eventual champs from Charlotte and this yr, Toronto was as soon as once more one of many high groups within the league, sitting atop the North Division when Keefe left.
Changing him quickly are Marlies assistants A.J. MacLean and Rob Davison. MacLean did media duties after Wednesday night time’s additional time win over Laval and was effusive in his reward for Keefe, whom he additionally labored with in Sault Ste. Marie with the OHL’s Greyhounds.
“For me personally, he means every thing to my profession,” MacLean stated. “Together with my father and Kyle Dubas, they’re the individuals who groomed me to be what I’m. As soon as I obtained executed taking part in, they took an opportunity on me within the Soo and each step of the best way he’s been an unimaginable mentor and principally an enormous brother to me via life and training.”
Keefe and Dubas – who has now been Keefe’s boss within the NHL, AHL and OHL – clearly have nice historical past collectively and present Greyhounds GM Kyle Raftis (who labored with Keefe in his ultimate yr with the Hounds) sees kindred spirits within the Maple Leafs GM and his new bench boss.
“They see the sport the identical means,” Raftis stated. “They communicate the identical language and there’s a lot of belief between the 2 of them.”
Leafs followers will even like the thought of Keefe’s flexibility. Whereas the coach clearly has his programs, Raftis famous that Keefe was nice at making in-game changes and will adapt to completely different conditions, relying on the opponent.
In a perfect world, Keefe’s methods will unleash Toronto’s top-end stars.
“Sheldon likes to play quick,” stated Marlies heart Adam Brooks. “And with the ability they’ve up there, I feel they’ll do nice with him as coach.”
However don’t simply take his pals’ phrase for it. I additionally requested a professional scout from one other NHL group what he considered Keefe and he liked the rent. He noticed Keefe’s Marlies as a group the place the defensemen might actually push the puck ahead and due to that, the scout anticipates {that a} participant resembling Tyson Barrie will actually take a step ahead below the brand new regime.
Puck possession will likely be essential and that may even imply a step up for a participant resembling Timashov. Maybe most significantly, nonetheless, is that the scout believed that Toronto’s stars – Auston Matthews and William Nylander, for instance – will flourish below a brand new voice that received’t favor older gamers the best way Babcock did. Babcock was additionally robust to play for and Keefe’s character might assist the celebrities, too. His Marlies noticed that: Keefe retains issues gentle, whereas additionally getting the job executed.
“You already know the place you stand,” Bracco stated. “You already know the place you might be within the lineup, what it’s essential to do to contribute and he expects you to get higher within the areas that you simply’re not so good at. He’s very simple to speak to – about life, not even hockey. He’s at all times been there, open-door coverage, and I feel they’ll recognize that up there.”
MacLean has seen Keefe’s handiwork up entrance for years now and he sees a person who is aware of the important thing to success:
“Particulars,” he stated. “He’s a really detailed man; he calls for it. He’s well-pronounced when he explains what he desires to see and each element issues. No stone goes unturned.”
For a market that has been craving one other Stanley Cup since 1967, that’s a superb factor to listen to.
“He genuinely cares about each participant that has come via right here,” MacLean stated. “He places the effort and time in to ensure each participant has the chance to achieve their most potential. The fellows undergo a wall for him right here.”
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Tags: ahl, toronto maple leafs, nhlConnect: In regards to the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the affiliate senior author and draft/prospect skilled at The Hockey Information. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all referred to as his home. He lives in Toronto together with his spouse and children the place he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.

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