Sheldon Keefe

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Sheldon Keefe
Img 8540jpg 28787725788 o (42307301044).jpg
Born (1980-09-17) September 17, 1980 (age 37)
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Tampa Bay Lightning
NHL Draft 47th overall, 1999
Tampa Bay Lightning
Playing career 2000–2005

Sheldon Keefe (born September 17, 1980), is a Canadian former professional ice hockey forward who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is currently the head coach of the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League, the primary affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs which he coached to the 2018 Calder Cup title beating the Texas Stars in seven games. His younger brother Adam Keefe is the current head coach of the Belfast Giants of the EIHL.

Playing career[edit]

In the 1998–99 season with the Toronto St. Michael's Majors and the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League, Keefe scored over 100 points, and was named the OHL Rookie of the Year, over Jason Spezza and Brad Boyes.[1] Keefe was then selected 47th overall, in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft as the second choice of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the 1999-2000 OHL season, Keefe led the OHL in scoring and set a Colts franchise record for most points in a season in the process, posting 121 points (48 goals, 73 assists) in 66 games.[2] During that season's playoffs, Keefe led the Colts to a seven-game victory over the Plymouth Whalers to claim the only OHL championship in Colts history. Keefe and the Colts drew national attention for their on- and off-ice behaviour which called into question the character of the players. Upon winning the OHL championship, Keefe, as captain of the Colts, infamously refused to shake the hand of league commissioner David Branch, telling him, "this must burn your ass."[3] At the Memorial Cup, the team walked out on a customary banquet, threatened members of the opposing Rimouski Oceanic, and refused to shake hands with Branch, also serving as Canadian Hockey League president, during pregame ceremonies. Their season ended with a 6-2 loss to the Oceanic in the Memorial Cup final.

Keefe made his NHL debut on October 18, 2000 in his first professional season in 2000–01.[2] He played 125 games for the Lightning. In the summer of 2004, Keefe was acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes. He did not play a game for the Coyotes, but in the 2004–05 season Keefe played 4 games for the Utah Grizzlies (1995-2005).[4] In September 2005, Keefe was re-signed as a restricted free agent by the Phoenix Coyotes and reassigned to San Antonio (AHL).[5]

After just five professional seasons, Keefe opted to end his professional career and continue his career in hockey with coaching.

Coaching career[edit]

Pembroke Lumber Kings (2006-2012)[edit]

Keefe purchased the Pembroke Lumber Kings, a storied but struggling Junior A franchise in the Central Canada Hockey League, in July 2003.[6] After a knee injury effectively ended his career in the 2004-05 AHL season, Keefe began to assist Lumber Kings head coach and general manager Kevin Abrams. The Lumber Kings went 50-7-1-1 in the 2005-06 season and were ranked first overall in Canada before being upset in the second round of the playoffs by the Nepean Raiders. During the 2005-06 season, Keefe’s then agent, David Frost, caused a wave of concern throughout the CJHL when he was found in an off limits area of an Ottawa arena. He was also filmed by CBC’s The Fifth Estate which then ran a documentary showing Frost attending several Lumber Kings games, thus putting the league in a bad light considering the ongoing criminal investigation of a sexual nature against Frost at the time.[7][7][8]

Keefe was named as head coach and general manager of the Lumber Kings on June 6, 2006 after Abrams was promoted to league commissioner.[9] In 2006-07, his first year, he led the Lumber Kings to a 41-10-2-2 record and guided the team to its first league championship in 18 years, satisfying a community desperate for a return to its junior hockey glory. The Lumber Kings then defeated the St-Jérôme Panthers at the Fred Page Cup to claim the Eastern Canadian championship. At the national championship-deciding Royal Bank Cup, the Lumber Kings lost to the Aurora Tigers in overtime of the semi-final to end their season.

Over the next three seasons, the Lumber Kings continued to develop under Keefe, and culminated in three more championships for the Pembroke club.[10] Each year, the team was eliminated in the Fred Page Cup and failed to qualify for the Royal Bank Cup.

As the 2010-2011 CCHL season began, the Lumber Kings were seeking a fifth straight league championship under Keefe's reign. The Lumber Kings went 51-9-2-2 and entered the postseason ranked 7th in Canada. After going undefeated through the first two rounds, they met the Cornwall Colts in the CCHL final. A hard-fought series saw the Lumber Kings prevail in six games to claim a fifth straight league championship, becoming the first team in league history to do so. The team proceeded to emerge victorious at the Fred Page Cup in a victory over the Longeuil College Francais and advanced to the Royal Bank Cup to compete for the national championship. After eliminating the Camrose Kodiaks in the semi-final, they met the Vernon Vipers to decide the Royal Bank Cup. The Vipers were seeking a third straight national title, and the Lumber Kings were looking for their first in the treasured history of the club. Keefe's squad battled to a 2-0 victory to become the 2011 Royal Bank Cup Champions.[11]

Midway through the 2011-2012 CCHL season, Keefe announced that he was leaving the Lumber Kings to become the head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He finished his CCHL coaching career with a record of 285-95-12, establishing team records for most career wins and highest career win percentage.[12]

Keefe announced over Twitter on May 29, 2013 that he had sold the Pembroke Lumber Kings to former Calgary Flames player, and Eganville native Dale McTavish.[13]

On October 4, 2013, Keefe returned to Pembroke as he was honoured with a banner raised to the rafters of the Pembroke Memorial Centre in recognition of his era with the team.[14]

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (2012-2015)[edit]

On December 3, 2012, Keefe was named the head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.[15] Keefe quickly turned around a faltering Greyhounds team and transformed them into a powerhouse. In 2013-2014, his first full season as head coach, the Greyhounds were 44-17-7 and finished atop the West Division. They were swept in the second round of the playoffs at the hands of future NHL 1st overall draft pick Connor McDavid and the Erie Otters.[16]

In 2014-2015, the Greyhounds' revitalization was complete, and the team posted their greatest season in franchise history, topping the OHL with a 54-12-2 record thanks to a league-leading 342 goals scored. Keefe was awarded the Matt Leyden Trophy as the OHL's top coach and was named the CHL Coach of the Year.[17] Keefe's Greyhounds showed their strength in the playoffs, sweeping both the first and second round to enter the Western Conference final undefeated. However, it was McDavid and the Otters once again ending the Greyhounds' run, as the Otters topped the Greyhounds in six games.[18]

Toronto Marlies (2015-present)[edit]

Keefe with the Calder Cup, after coaching the Toronto Marlies to win the 2018 Calder Cup Final.

After three successful seasons with the Greyhounds, on June 8, 2015, Keefe was named the head coach of the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, the top affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs.[19]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1995–96 Toronto Nationals MTHL 45 66 71 137
1996–97 Quinte Hawks MetJHL 44 21 23 44 41
1996–97 Bramalea Blues OPJHL 8 0 3 3 4
1997–98 Caledon Canadians MetJHL 43 41 40 81 117 13 15 8 23
1998–99 Toronto St. Michael's Majors OHL 38 37 37 74 80
1998–99 Barrie Colts OHL 28 14 28 42 60 10 5 5 10 31
1999–00 Barrie Colts OHL 66 48 73 121 95 25 10 13 23 41
2000–01 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 49 4 0 4 38
2000–01 Detroit Vipers IHL 13 7 5 12 23
2001–02 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 39 6 7 13 16
2001–02 Springfield Falcons AHL 24 9 9 18 26
2002–03 Tampa Bay Lightning NHL 37 2 5 7 24
2002–03 Springfield Falcons AHL 33 16 15 31 28 6 0 0 0 4
2003–04 Hershey Bears AHL 59 16 16 32 82
2004–05 Utah Grizzlies AHL 4 0 1 1 0
NHL totals 125 12 12 24 78


  • OHL All-Rookie Team (1999)
  • OHL Rookie of the Year (1999)
  • OHL Second All-Star Team (2000)
  • OHL Top Scorer (2000)
  • Canadian Major Junior First All-Star Team (2000)
  • Memorial Cup Tournament All-Star Team (2000)


  1. ^ "Boyes bronzed Rookie All-Star, Keefe is Rookie of the Year". Canoe Network, SLAM Sports, April 29, 1999. Archived from the original on September 26, 2005. Retrieved 2006-06-08. 
  2. ^ a b "NHL Players, SHELDON KEEFE 28". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2006-06-08. [dead link]
  3. ^ Cox, Damien (2015-03-27). "Long associated with David Frost and Mike Danton, Sheldon Keefe began to reach out for a new image, first through social media, rather than living in the shadows". The Toronto Star. ISSN 0319-0781. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  4. ^ "NHL Player Search, Sheldon Keefe". Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum, Legends of Hockey. Retrieved 2006-06-08. 
  5. ^ "Home, NHL, Coyotes, playersbio, Sheldon Keefe"., Bell Globemedia. Retrieved 2006-06-08. 
  6. ^ "Honouring Sheldon Keefe". Pembroke Daily Observer. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  7. ^ a b "Former hockey agent David Frost driven out of Kingston". Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  8. ^ "CJHL walks Frosty tightrope". Archived from the original on 2016-01-16. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 
  9. ^ Peplinskie, Tina (June 7, 2006). "Abrams leaves Lumber Kings, Sheldon Keefe will coach team". Pembroke Daily Observer. [permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Soo Greyhounds' coach fired". Sudbury Star. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  11. ^ "Keefe tapped for National U18 team". Sault Star. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  12. ^ "Pembroke Lumber Kings | CCHL- Central Canada Hockey League - Pointstreak Sites". Archived from the original on 2014-12-27. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "A night to remember". Pembroke Daily Observer. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  15. ^ "Keefe hopes to push the right buttons". Sault Star. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  16. ^ "OHL Network". Archived from the original on 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  17. ^ "CHL awards for Keefe, DeAngelo". Sault Star. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  18. ^ "OHL Network". Archived from the original on 2016-01-04. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 
  19. ^ "Sheldon Keefe named head coach of the Toronto Marlies". 2015-06-08. Retrieved 2015-06-08. 

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