Devils contacted Sheldon Keefe hours after posting video farewell

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
17 days ago
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They say if you want something, to go and get it. And the New Jersey Devils took this message to heart.
The Toronto Maple Leafs fired former head coach Sheldon Keefe on May 9, five days after falling victim to the Boston Bruins for the third time in six years and failing to advance past the first round for the fifth time in five years with him behind the bench. The first-round woes are impossible to tie to Keefe alone, considering that their track record in the playoffs extends back to the Mike Babcock era and the beginning of the Auston Matthews era, but at some point, the reality of a results-based business takes over. One series win in five years for a market hungry for meaningful success is not good enough no matter how you slice it.
Nevertheless, Keefe handled the firing with class and went as far as to tweet out a video goodbye to the fans and the city of Toronto.
In a matter of days, he was back on his feet chatting with other teams. Actually, it was a matter of hours.
During Keefe’s introductory press conference as New Jersey Devils head coach, it was revealed that general manager Tom Fitzgerald quite literally wasted no time reaching out to Keefe after he tweeted the video.
The Devils spiralled after a big year development-wise in 2022-23, firing head coach Lindy Ruff in early March 2024 and seemingly getting worse under interim coach Travis Green before outright missing the playoffs  Keefe’s lack of playoff success aside, it should come as no surprise that he was one of the first to get a phone call from them. He’s third all-time in regular season wins for the Maple Leafs, and while a regular season stat is just that, there’s a grocery list of factors that go into why the Leafs have so much trouble winning in the playoffs.
The tidbit also reads like Fitzgerald knew who he wanted right from the get go, but Keefe wasn’t the only candidate they talked to.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs making the hiring of Craig Berube official last Tuesday, it’s clear that there were no hard feelings between either side and that both were eager to move on. Keefe gets the opportunity to work under a smaller spotlight with a young team looking to take the next step, and Berube gets a team that’s perhaps more talented than the Cup-winning Blues team he coached on paper, but severely lacking the postseason experience. It will make for an interesting couple of years going forward.

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