Sheldon Keefe addressed the media after his team’s 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday evening, improving the Leafs’ record to 5-2-0 on the season.
On the passing of Leaf legend George Armstrong:
It is important to acknowledge the passing of George Armstrong today. It was tough news for our organization and our fans and people that love the game. We actually took a moment today as a team. Normally, 90 minutes before the game, we have a meeting and that is where we cover our plans for our game and preparing for the opposition. Today, we made it about George. I shared a video about him and had a conversation about him and his impact on our organization.
Leafs Nation is as strong as it is because of the efforts of people like George and, in particular, that era when they were winning Stanley Cups. Generations of Leafs fans were bred through those efforts. We felt it was important to acknowledge that. Our condolences to the Armstrong family, his friends, and the people who loved him.
For myself, I didn’t get a chance to see him play or anything like that, but as I said, we feel the efforts of people like George and the efforts they put forth in that era. We feel that every day here with the Leafs, and we are grateful for that.
On the message to the players about George Armstrong:
We went through a video that recapped his accomplishments and what he meant to the organization. He was a key part in those Stanley Cups with his abilities as a leader and as a captain.
The message, really, was just how efforts like that, back in the ’60s in particular, are the reason Leafs Nation is as strong as it is. Generations of families grow up as Leafs fans because of those efforts. We have a role to play to continue to build upon that.
When you are in this every day and you are in the moment taking care of what you can control every single day, I do think it is important to stop and pause every now and again just to look at the bigger picture and recognize that what we are doing here every day is for a greater purpose beyond ourselves. We have a role to play within how we prepare and how we play. People like George showed the way there.
On what the team can take from an “ugly win” over the Flames:
There was no doubt it was an ugly one. The reality is, we looked at this game as our seventh game in 12 days. Traveling out here, and having to play a 2 p.m. game, it is a tough ask. You are playing against a rested team. This one, we felt, would not be pretty. To get the two points is real big.
For us to have found a way to get the win and find a way to bounce a few pucks in the net, that is enough for us to get out of here with a win. Now we will get a good night’s rest and have a good practice tomorrow and regroup for the next time out.
On Jack Campbell’s performance:
He was huge. You don’t get through ugly games like this with a win without your goalie being your best player. He was that today. He gave our guys great confidence — maybe too much confidence at times. He was outstanding. It was another great effort by him today.
On seeing Campbell struggling in pain late in the game:
You are hoping he is alright. He got a little bit of tension there. It happened late in the game, so I think he is feeling the effects of that a little bit. He was able to skate it off and get through the remainder of the game. Luckily, there was no other flurry around the net the rest of the way.
On Auston Matthews’ first game back:
He, like a lot of the guys on our team, they weren’t themselves today. I don’t know how many days it has been since he has skated here. We just didn’t have legs today, so it was really tough for all of our top guys to really get going tonight.