After practice on Friday, Sheldon Keefe discussed Morgan Rielly’s new contract, shaking up the defense pairings, and healthy scratching Justin Holl for Saturday’s game vs. Detroit.

What does it mean to have Morgan Rielly locked up for the next eight years?

Keefe: It means a lot. Obviously, there is Morgan the player and what he brings on the ice. To have that security is big. It means a lot just with his leadership, the fact that he is the longest-tenured Leaf here, and that he is showing the commitment to the organization that he wants to be here. There is a commitment on the organization’s side as well. I think it is a nice message from Morgan to the team that he believes in what we are doing here.

What have you come to know about him as a person in your time coaching him?

Keefe: Just incredible integrity, would be the big thing. Great teammate. Great leader. He works extremely hard. He puts the team ahead of himself. I think he is just a very selfless player. The talents and the abilities he has are a huge part of what he brings. There are all of those other intangibles.

There is a reason why the organization has gone through a number of changes over the years and he is the one guy that has lasted and has been here. He loves being a Leaf. The passion and commitment to the organization come through in how he conducts himself every day.

Is a good example of his integrity the time when Morgan Rielly went to you when you first took over as head coach and said he would step off of the top power-play unit in order to get Tyson Barrie going?

Keefe: That is one thing. It wasn’t a situation where he came to me necessarily. I don’t think you ever want players coming to you and volunteering to play less, but I made the suggestion and not many players would take that information well. Especially players of his ability, you don’t want to come off of the first power-play unit. He understood the situation at the time and was all about it.

It is one thing to say that, but how you conduct yourself when you leave the office and how you approach the next day, how you are around your teammates, and how you play — those are the most important things. He didn’t let it affect him or his game, how he treated his teammates, or how he acted around the room. Those are the types of things that you see.

Even how he conducts himself out in the community, how he is involved in community initiatives — he is just a guy that recognizes his role that he has in the community and around the league. He sets a good example all of the time.

Morgan Rielly said he asked you not to announce it in front of the team, but he appreciated the response from his teammates.

Keefe: Yeah, I spoke with him briefly. I didn’t know before earlier this morning when the announcement was going to be made officially. I talked to him a little bit about it because I was told it was going to be announced basically when we were on the ice. He said, “I don’t want to make a big deal of it.” He is a modest guy. That speaks to what he is like.

I thought it was important to give him that acknowledgement. It is a cool moment for his teammates to acknowledge it there. I am sure he appreciated it deep down.

What went into the decision to shake up the defense pairs?

Keefe: We just haven’t played well enough as a unit defensively. That is as a team and includes the forwards and their contributions as well, but the D pairs and the D core have not played well enough.

It is not just Justin Holl, but Justin Holl has not played near his level that we have come to expect. He has earned our greater degree of expectation and responsibility here through his play and the way he has performed for us, but it hasn’t been to that level here to start with.

He is not the only one, but he is not going to play tomorrow. That in itself changes the chemistry of the group. We wanted to move some things around to see how that looks tomorrow.

Auston Matthews seemed to play with an edge in Chicago. What did you see from him in the last game?

Keefe: Lots of urgency. A guy that is showing how badly he wants to win and how badly he wants his team to do well. He takes a lot of that on himself. At the same time, we want him to be a guy who leads by example with the effort and the determination he plays with but also how hard he competes and how hard he wants it. You hope that it rubs off on his teammates.

Is Petr Mrazek on track to get back in the lineup?

Keefe: Petr will start tomorrow.