What did New Jersey Devils fans learn during Sheldon Keefe's introductory press conference?

Sheldon Keefe was formally introduced to the New Jersey Devils' media on Tuesday. He spoke about his experience and expectations.
Devils new head coach Sheldon Keefe
Devils new head coach Sheldon Keefe / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Keefe's Future Plans

When the Devils defeated the Maples Leafs 6-3 on March 26th, Keefe said postgame, "We're playing against a team that's amongst the dangerous teams in the NHL offensively. If Jack Hughes gets two breakaways, then you're not winning the game." Hughes finished that game with two goals. One of the issues that Lindy Ruff had last season was getting the most out of his top-notch players, including Timo Meier and Dawson Mercer. Once interim head coach Travis Green took over, both players had a huge surge as a result.

Establishing a team identity is imperative. The Devils have a young core that can do some damage in the league. But if they're not unitized correctly, their talent could go to waste, as Meier and Mercer have proven. Keefe explained his expectations for this Devils team and what he hopes to see out of them on a nightly basis.

"I think what you can expect from us is to play a style that is fast and competitive that prioritizes pressure on the puck in all zones. But also leans in on the skill and makes plays. In order to do that, you need the proper tools to do so, and I believe we have those here. I'm very excited to build out a plan that can maximize the strengths of our team. But also have a group that can develop cohesion and connectivity within the group on both sides of the puck that really shines through in all zones."

Sheldon Keefe

Keefe also talked about holding his players accountable. The Devils were notoriously known for getting off to slow starts. Hughes said that it came down to their "will and determination." Others said it was due to "immaturity" and sometimes "playing scared." Basically, there were more questions than answers this past season. Keefe hopes to guide the players to the promised land.

"My philosophy with accountability is giving the players what they need in the moment...You have to be able to read and adapt to the situation, each player, each personality, and where the team is at. Sometimes you're doing it in a one-on-one basis in your office. Sometimes you're doing it right out front of the team because the team needs to know it, see it, and know that the expectations are higher...Accountability is about having actions match ambitions. We know what the expectations are here and what the potential is for the team to challenge to make the playoffs and compete to win the Stanley Cup."

Sheldon Keefe

Moving Forward

The Devils should be grateful for Keefe. Because he's been a head coach for 18 years and has a good history of getting to the playoffs. He even won a Calder Cup in 2018 for the Toronto Marlies. Not only that, but he also led the Pembroke Lumber Kings to five straight league championships. Considering the fact that he saw great offensive success with Toronto's Core Four, I would expect him to do the same with New Jersey.

People make jokes about the Leafs' struggles to make it out of the first round. However, ever since 2004, the Leafs have only advanced to the second round once, and that was last season when Keefe was still the head coach. The Devils are not the Leafs. This unit has made it past the first round more times than the Leafs since 2004, including a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2012. If Fitzgerald adds more defense and goaltending, then the Devils will be just fine with Keefe behind the bench.