Sheldon Keefe speaks with the media
(Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

The New Jersey Devils officially announced the hiring of Sheldon Keefe as their new head coach. The news was originally broken by Spittin Chiclets’ podcast host Rear Admiral.

After a tumultuous season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Keefe is ready to turn over a new leaf (pun intended) with the Devils.

I remember when Keefe first took over as head coach of the Leafs back in November 2019. There was a sense of excitement and optimism in the air. He had just come off a successful stint with the Toronto Marlies, leading them to a Calder Cup championship in 2018. Fans were hopeful that he could bring that same magic to the Leafs.

However, despite some initial success, the Leafs struggled to make it past the first round of the playoffs under Keefe’s leadership. In his three full seasons as head coach, the team posted a record of 138-64-19. While impressive on paper, the lack of postseason success ultimately led to his dismissal.

Now, Keefe has a chance to start fresh with the Devils. He takes over a team that has struggled in recent years, missing the playoffs in four of the last five seasons. The Devils have gone through a revolving door of coaches, with Lindy Ruff being the most recent casualty.

But there’s reason for optimism in New Jersey. The Devils have a talented young core, led by Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier. They also have a solid veteran presence in players like Dougie Hamilton and Ondrej Palat. With the right coaching and system in place, this team has the potential to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.

So, was Keefe the problem in Toronto? It’s hard to say. The Leafs have a history of postseason disappointment that predates Keefe’s tenure. But there were certainly some questionable decisions made during his time there, such as the overreliance on certain players and the inability to make adjustments in key moments.

That being said, I believe that Keefe is a talented coach who deserves another chance. He has a proven track record of developing young players and implementing a fast-paced, offensive style of play. If he can get buy-in from the Devils’ roster and make some tweaks to his approach, there’s no reason why this team can’t compete for a playoff spot next season.

Of course, there will be challenges along the way. The Metropolitan Division is always tough, with teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers consistently vying for the top spot. But if Keefe can instill a winning culture and get the most out of his players, the Devils could be a team to watch in 2024-25.

Only time will tell if this move pays off for New Jersey. But one thing is for sure: Sheldon Keefe is ready for a fresh start, and the Devils are banking on him to lead them back to the promised land.