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Sabres Have Owned Devils Head Coach Sheldon Keefe

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Sheldon Keefe New Jersey Devils Toronto Maple Leafs

Sheldon Keefe didn’t take long to find a new home, as the New Jersey Devils named him their new head coach Thursday. The Buffalo Sabres are familiar with the former Maple Leafs bench boss, facing him 15 times since he took over in Toronto. He’ll now look to fill the shoes left by Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, who the Devils fired in March.

Must Read: Comparing Current and Former Lindy Ruff Sabres Players

Keefe is leaving one talented team for another, as the Devils are a season removed from a 112-point regular season. The Maple Leafs had three straight 100-point seasons under Keefe. Five straight playoff appearances proved he knows how to manage talent throughout the 82-game grind.

The playoff struggles ultimately cost him his job, with Toronto advancing past the first round only once out of his five seasons as head coach. Keefe will look to change the narrative with the Devils

The Sabres have always had the Maple Leafs’ number for whatever reason. They’re 123-77-29 all-time against Toronto, with a whopping 74-33-8 record at home. That’s about a 68% point percentage at home and a 60% point percentage overall.

Against Keefe’s Leafs specifically, the Sabres went 8-5-2. That’s a 60% point percentage to mimic the overall pace against their rivals up north. For reference, a 60% point percentage equals a 98-point season.

In other words, if the Sabres played the Maple Leafs coached by Keefe all 82 games, they would’ve comfortably made the playoffs. This is impressive considering the Sabres finished 25th, 31st, 24th, 20th, and 22nd in the standings across that span.

Keefe’s connection to Buffalo will now be through the comparisons to Ruff. The Devils have Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, and Timo Meier at forward. Luke Hughes, Dougie Hamilton, and Simon Nemec highlight a talented defense that floundered in 2023-2024 under Ruff. If Keefe can return them to the playoffs, he’ll be revered by the fanbase.

If the Devils struggle out of the gate under Keefe and Ruff turns around the Sabres, there will be a wonder if New Jersey acted too hastily.