The Toronto Maple Leafs signed new head coach Sheldon Keefe to a three-year contract on Thursday, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
Keefe, who had coached Toronto's AHL affiliate team for the last five seasons, will assume the team's head coaching duties for the remainder of this season through 2021-22.
The 39-year-old played 125 NHL games for the Tampa Bay Lightning between the 2000-01 and 2002-03 seasons. He has a longstanding working relationship with Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas dating back to when Dubas hired Keefe to coach Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2012.
When Dubas made the jump from the OHL to NHL as an assistant GM in Toronto, he oversaw the Leafs' farm team — the Toronto Marlies. Dubas quickly brought Keefe on board in June 2015 when he hired him to coach in the AHL. The Marlies won the Calder Cup in 2018 just before Dubas was promoted to take the GM job for the Leafs.
The duo has now made it all the way to the NHL's highest-pressure environment after Keefe's mid-season replacement of Mike Babcock.
Keefe's first game as Toronto's head coach — and first as an NHL coach at all — comes Thursday in Arizona against the Coyotes.