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AP source: Former Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe gets the New Jersey Devils top job

Sheldon Keefe is the Devils’ fifth coach since 2019 and third since March.

Associated Press

May 23, 2024, 2:32 AM

Updated 32 days ago

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Sheldon Keefe is being hired as the coach of the New Jersey Devils, less than two weeks after he was fired by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
A source close to the franchise confirmed the hiring in a telephone call with The Associated Press, adding the official announcement will be made on Thursday.
Keefe is the Devils’ fifth coach since 2019 and third since March. They fired Lindy Ruff late in the season, replaced him on an interim basis with Travis Green and missed the playoffs anyway. Green left to coach the Ottawa Senators.
This is Keefe’s second head-coaching job in the NHL after spending the past four-plus seasons with Toronto, making the playoffs each time but winning just one series in the process. That led the Leafs to seek a new voice and hire Stanley Cup-winning coach Craig Berube.
Keefe, 43, will now be tasked with trying to get New Jersey back into the postseason. The Devils, with the sixth-worst save percentage in the league, could not outscore their problems to make it this year after reaching the second round in 2023.
The Devils posted a 38-39-5 record this past season, a 31-point drop from the previous season. They had several injuries with the biggest being a torn pectoral muscle that limited defenseman Dougie Hamilton to 20 games. Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler also missed time with a broken foot and a concussion. Star forward Jack Hughes missed 20 games, while center and captain Nico Hischier was out for 11.
New Jersey also lost key faceoff man Michael McLeod in February after he was indicted in Canada on charges related to a sexual assault case in 2018.
Goaltending was the team's major problem last year as Vitek Vanecek, Nico Daws and Akira Schmid were inconsistent. New Jersey got help late when it acquired Jake Allen at the trade deadline but the netminding remains an issue heading into next season.
General manager Tom Fitzgerald's team has youth and speed. Forward Jesper Bratt (27 goals, 56 assists), Timo Meier (28-24), Hischier (27-40) and Hughes (27-47) are outstanding up front, while defenseman Luke Hughes had a franchise record 47 points (9-38) in his rookie season.
Ruff had led the Devils to a franchise-record 112 points in 2022-23, a 49-point improvement from the previous year. They finished second in the Metropolitan Division riding a career-best season by Jack Hughes. New Jersey rallied to beat the Rangers in seven games in the opening round and lost to the Carolina Hurricanes in five in the second round.


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