New Jersey Devils hire Sheldon Keefe as new head coach

Devils to hire Sheldon Keefe as new head coach (0:52)

Take a look at the numbers behind Sheldon Keefe's tenure with the Toronto Maple Leafs as he is named the new head coach of the New Jersey Devils. (0:52)

The New Jersey Devils hired Sheldon Keefe as their new coach, it was announced Thursday. Keefe's deal with the Devils is for four years, sources told ESPN's Emily Kaplan.

"This is an exciting time, and I'm honored to be a member of the Devils' organization," Keefe said in a statement. "To have the chance to lead this young, dynamic team and to see the potential that can still be unlocked is all very attractive for me."

Keefe, 43, was fired as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs on May 9, less than a week after they lost in Game 7 to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. He was replaced by former St. Louis Blues coach Craig Berube.

Keefe had two years remaining on a contract extension signed in August, but the Maple Leafs are no longer on the hook for that expense. He becomes the Devils' fifth head coach since 2019 and the third since March.

"This was an invigorating process for me, having met with many qualified candidates and hearing how attractive this position was to them," Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald said. "Sheldon jumped to the top of my list when he became available, and I was thrilled when he agreed to be a part of what we are building here. He is an excellent communicator, believes in collaboration and will take what he has learned previously to make this team a Stanley Cup contender."

The Leafs made the playoffs in all five seasons Keefe coached the team but advanced past the first round only one time. That playoff series win in 2023 was the first for Toronto since 2004. Keefe compiled a record of 212-97-40 with the Leafs for a .622 points percentage.

Keefe played 125 games in the NHL as a winger with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He coached the OHL Soo Greyhounds for three years and the AHL Toronto Marlies for five years before taking over the Leafs, working with former Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas at each stop.

The Devils fired coach Lindy Ruff during the 2023-24 season, which saw them miss the playoffs with a a 38-39-5 record and regress by 31 points after advancing to the second round of the postseason during the previous campaign.

The New Jersey vacancy was considered one of the most desirable in the NHL because of the Devils' collection of 25-and-under stars Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Luke Hughes. Keefe had experience in Toronto working with elite young talents such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

The Devils reportedly interviewed Berube, former Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft and former Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan, among others.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.