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Report: Devils Coaching Candidate List Grows After Maple Leafs Fire Head Coach



New Jersey Devils

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired their head coach, Sheldon Keefe, on Thursday morning after they failed to qualify for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the seventh time in eight seasons. According to a report, Keefe will now be added to New Jersey’s detailed list of Devils coaching candidates.

General Manager Tom Fitzgerald explained he wanted to take his time making a decision on Lindy Ruff’s successor.

We know this much.

It won’t be Travis Green who just signed a four-year contract with the Ottawa Senators, officially grabbing onto his second head coaching gig after stepping in as Ruff’s interim on March 4th.

New Jersey has interviewed a bevy of Devils coaching candidates such as Craig Berube, Jay Woodcroft, and Todd McLellan since their offseason has gotten underway.

Now that Keefe is on the open market, The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun tweets,”[the] Devils will have interest in interviewing Sheldon Keefe as part of their coaching search.”

The Devils are searching for a different kind of bench boss these days. Ruff was the kind of coach who developed young talent well, however, now Fitzgerald wants to hire someone who can perhaps be a bit more demanding in the locker room, on the ice, and behind the bench.

Berube is certainly cut from that kind of cloth. However, the same can be said of Keefe who has certainly been documented to use some colorful language while wearing his heart on his sleeve.

There is a stark difference between Berube and Keefe, however.

The former is a Stanley Cup Champion who overcame immense adversity when he took over for the St. Louis Blues in 2019. Berube coached the Blues from a worst-to-first situation and brought home the hardware to St. Louis for the first time in their history.

Keefe, on the other hand, inherited a talented group in the Maple Leafs, failing to bring Toronto past the second round in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and bowed out in the first round in the remaining four postseasons when he was behind their bench.

Keefe’s regular season resume is hard to deny, however.

Since Keefe took over in the Maple Leafs bench in the 2019-20 season, he’s coached Toronto to a .622 points percentage, or more.

As of now, the Devils’ coaching search appears steadfast on Berube. However, with the vacancy in Toronto, the former Stanley Cup Champion bench boss will certainly have at least an interview with what he described as, “… the best hockey market in the world.”

Therefore, Fitzgerald will need to decide if the Devils’ coaching vacancy will be filled by someone else, including the potential that it’s Sheldon Keefe.

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