Keefe paid tribute to Salt and former Leafs teammate Kyle Dupas. It’s been a huge part of my career. He has done an amazing job of putting our organization in a very good place.
NASHVILLE – Sheldon Cave has kept his job after a difficult surgery.
The Maple Leafs coach also knows he’ll get a second chance.
In charge a month after replacing Kyle Dubas, Toronto general manager Brad Treleving announced this week that Keefe will return behind the bench after a series of meetings between the two men to ensure his fitness.
“Nice to be back,” Keefe said Thursday, on the second day of the NHL Draft. It was a process, but a good process – an all-encompassing one. It’s obviously uncertain and uncomfortable at times, but it’s a good process and necessary process for understanding Brad’s position in the organization.
“Glad to continue.”
Not knowing Keefe before he was signed as general manager in hockey’s biggest market, Treliving turned to the coach to see if they could work together.
Keefe, who is entering the final year of his contract, got the result.
“I approached him as if I were starting over,” Keefe said. “This interaction with Brad took place over several days for me and was very inclusive – a combination of my beliefs and philosophy and going through the process as if you were interviewing for any job.
“Where we have been, what we have been through, how we have dealt with different situations and where I think the team is. Then there was a time when there was uncertainty.”
Keefe is 166-71-30 since taking over from Toronto in 2019, including performances of 115 and 111 points in the past two seasons, but playoff success has been a tougher feat for the Original Six franchise.
The Leafs qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 19 years this spring before being quietly eliminated in the second round.
There had been questions about Keefe’s future even before Dubas’ sacking after a bizarre streak led to team boss Brendan Shanahan handing his walking papers to GM.
“I’m on the sidelines, right? Keefe talked about this awkward time.” It’s out of my control and there’s a lot going on.
“I knew that when it was my turn, I would have some kind of connection.”
Dubas hired Keefe to the Ontario Hockey League (as head coach of the Soo Greyhounds), the American Hockey League, and the NHL.
“It’s been a huge part of my career,” said the coach. Working with him has grown tremendously. He has done an amazing job of putting our organization in a very good position.
“I also worked without him a few times along the way, and I enjoyed that, too.”
Dubas indicated that he would stay with the Leafs or sit out the game before being fired. He then appeared with the Pittsburgh Penguins as President of Hockey Operations about 30 minutes before Treliving met the Toronto media for the first time at the Scotiabank Arena in late May.
“I’m glad Kyle landed on his feet,” Keefe said. “The new perspective and working with new people so far has been very good for me.”
Treliving and Keefe spent about 17 hours somewhere in the neighborhood at these meetings before making the call about his future.
“A big decision for him, so I was available for whatever he needed,” Keefe said of his new boss. “Although he was sometimes uncomfortable with some questions and doubts for me, he was easy to talk to and it was comforting.
“The more time you spend together, the more excited you will be to work with him.”
Keefe was also asked about a possible contract extension.
“She will play her part,” he said. “There’s a lot on (Treliving’s) list right now. I understand that, and when the time comes, we’ll take the time to talk about it and see what works for both the organization and me.”
Keefe said Treliving has admired the way Toronto’s best players – Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander – have defended over the past few seasons.
The pair also shared the belief that the Leafs could win the “Core Four” in the future.
“Brad made it clear that it’s really hard to have good players,” Keefe said. “Brad is going to keep fighting and he’s going to do everything he can to give us the best team he can on the ice.
“Même si nous ne sommes pas arrivés exactement là où nous devons aller, il est difficile de ne pas reconnaître the fait qu’il ya eu des progrès … (mais) our vivons toujours dans the realité of la la difficultyé d’obtenir so far . »
Keefe will have the opportunity to help make that happen.