June 14, 2024

The New Jersey Devils officially announced former Toronto Maple Leafs bench boss Sheldon Keefe as their new head coach on Tuesday afternoon, a day full of pleasantries and warm welcomes alongside a little bit of info on the vetting process. Officially embarking on his second journey as an NHL head coach, Keefe made sure to express his gratitude for a certain John Tortorella, who now commands the Philadelphia Flyers.

For those who might not know this already, Keefe was once a top draft pick of and briefly played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, with his NHL career spanning from 2000 to 2003. It was in Tampa Bay that Keefe played under Tortorella, who was just getting his start as an NHL head coach.

The two have coached against each other in the past, including in a Stanley Cup playoffs matchup between Tortorella’s Columbus Blue Jackets and Keefe’s Maple Leafs, but the two will do battle as Metropolitan Division rivals for the first time.

For the freshly anointed Devils coach, it’s a full-circle moment of sorts.

“So, what are you gonna do to create your foundation and your core values as a coach? And then you lean on your experiences as a player to do that initially,” Keefe said, reflecting on his journey as an NHL head coach thus far. “My time spent with John Tortorella in the Tampa Bay organization really set the foundation for me as a coach. I learned a tremendous amount from him that I apply to coaching. It was through the experience of being part of an organization that was trying to raise the standard, when Torts came in, and went through some difficult times, both as a team and with some individuals. Some of the best players that were young and trying to grow were challenged by Torts on a daily basis to raise their standard.”

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