The 411 on New Marlies Head Coach Sheldon Keefe

Brendan Shanahan continues to put his master plan into place. Under his watchful eye, the Toronto Maple Leafs are determined to completely revamp their front office and coaching staff for the 2015 season and beyond. The additions of Mark Hunter, Kyle Dubas and Mike Babcock have provided the team with a wealth of exuberance and experience that should prove invaluable in the future.

Lately, the Maple Leafs have been dipping into the junior ranks in search of new personnel. That’s how they found the aforementioned Dubas and Hunter. The latest member of the organization is Sheldon Keefe, who was recently hired to be the new Toronto Marlies head coach. So, who exactly is Sheldon Keefe?

Playing Background

Keefe was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning, 47th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He only suited up for 125 games for the Bolts over his career, most of which was spent in the AHL with teams like the Springfield Falcons, Hershey Bears and Utah Grizzlies.

Coaching Career

In 2006, Keefe took over major duties for the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the CCHL and became their head coach and general manager. Under his leadership and tutelage the Lumber Kings went on to capture five straight Central Canada Hockey League Championships. They were also the 2011 Royal Bank Cup champions. His stats before leaving for the OHL are a regular season mark of 265-76-20 along with a 67-22 postseason record.

In December of 2012, Keefe was named the 18th head coach in Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds history. He spent three seasons with the team, and was named both the CHL and OHL Coach of the Year in 2015. He’s the first Greyhounds coach to capture the award since Craig Hartsburg in 2001-02.

In his last two full seasons with the Greyhounds he accumulated a record of 99-26-7. The team finished first in the West both years but were bounced from the playoffs the last two years by the Erie Otters. In 2013-14 they lost in the second round, and this past season they were defeated in the conference finals.

How Does he Fit With the Marlies?

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Keefe is a proven winner who knows how to get the best out of his players. The Marlies have a lot of young and impressionable talent like Connor Brown, William Nylander and Brendan Leipsic. It will be Keefe’s job to mold them into NHL ready players so that when they are given the call up to the big team, they can perform to the best of their abilities.

Keefe and Babcock will need to be on the same page for the development of the teams prospects. The two should be working closely to implement the same playing style so that the transition is seamless for AHL players called up to the NHL.

Keefe has some work to do. It’s a great challenge, and he appears to be ready and willing to take on the task. Shanahan continues to add pieces of the puzzle. He has gone after top CHL talent and the addition of Keefe proves that the organization is truly going in a different and exciting direction.