Sheldon Keefe is a name that's been brought up a lot as Kyle Dubas takes greater control of the Toronto Marlies, so it's no big shock that the Soo Greyhounds coach has been named the sixth coach the Marlies have had behind the bench since their move to Toronto in 2005.
Keefe has been head coach of the Ontario Hockey League's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds since December 3, 2012. This was an early move of rookie general manager Kyle Dubas, and was met with skepticism and questions at the time. Keefe wasn't quite blacklisted from hockey per se, but he wasn't near the top of anyone's books for sure.
Keefe was part of a group of players known as "The Brampton Boys" in the OHL at the turn of the century. Led by Agent David Frost, the group included Mike Jefferson (now Mike Danton), Sheldon Keefe, and Joe Goodenow. Frost was suspended from the Metro Toronto Hockey League and left for Deseronto, Ontario, taking his boys with him to finish up their pre-OHL time.
This group of players would all go on to play for the OHL's Barrie Colts and become something of a legend. Keefe was captain of that team and refused to play nice with CHL/OHL commissioner David Branch at the presentation of the OHL championship trophy and throughout the Memorial Cup tournament.
Keefe and Jefferson were reportedly kicked off the team more than once and benched on numerous occasions for ignoring their coach during the game. On-ice issues aside, the bigger cloud that kept looming over Keefe was his relationship with David Frost off the ice.
David Frost is not a name you want to bring up in hockey conversation if you want to stay on topic. Frost was charged with 12 counts of sexual exploitation in 2008 in incidents from 1995-2001 in Deseronto. He was acquitted in November 2008.
At his trial, Keefe testified on Frost's behalf, as he lived with Frost, Jefferson, and Darryl Tiveron in a 2 bedroom motel suite, where, according to reports, Frost was sexually controlling of the players, and would "go first" with any girl who was brought back to the room.
Keefe would become co-owner of the Pembrooke Lumber Kings with Frost (who would eventually withdraw ownership) and be Head Coach and General Manager of the team from 2006 until his departure for the OHL, when he sold the team to Dale McTavish after leaving. The Lumberkings won 4 league titles and one RBC Cup under Keefe's leadership.
Keefe was a believer in analytics during his time in the Soo, working with Dubas to learn more and develop them as a tool in player development. Forging this relationship with Dubas and becoming a believer in finding every tool possible to get the best performance possible out of every player.
This season, with the Greyhounds, Keefe was named the OHL's coach of the year after Dubas' departure.
Their relationship will continue and hopefully the Marlies will see the same kind of strong seasons the Greyhounds saw under Dubas/Keefe - 2nd in OHL West, 1st in OHL West, 1st in OHL West - losing in the playoffs to the Erie Otters the past two seasons.
Keefe will be looked upon to develop the Leafs prospects in the new Dubas way: let the players decide their roles, player development over game decisions, and earn everything you get.