After the hiring of Guy Boucher and Mike Van Ryn as new assistant coaches, Sheldon Keefe discussed his new coaching-staff additions and Brad Treliving’s offseason work so far.

Can you discuss how the responsibilities are going to break down between Mike Van Ryn and Guy Boucher?

Keefe: Guy would come into Spencer Carbery’s role as power-play coach. Obviously, with Guy, you get a lot more with his experience and his skill set as a head coach. I really came to value that with what Spencer himself brought having been a head coach at the AHL level.

With Guy, he has a great skill set. He is very passionate about the power play, first and foremost. That was exciting right from the start. I have known Guy for quite some time now. We have talked a lot over the years. I know the power play is an area that he is very passionate about.

Through the process of integrating people, you talk through different things. I initially was speaking with Mike Van Ryn about the power-play position as well. Through that process, I thought he could help us in other areas.

Mike Van Ryn will run the defense for us. Dean Chynoweth will continue to lead the penalty kill and support Van Ryn in running the defense on the bench. [Chynoweth’s] main focus will be the penalty kill.

Manny Malhotra’s role will remain unchanged in terms of the faceoffs and the pre-scouts. He has done a tremendous job for us in that area. He will move up to the eye-in-the-sky position, which is one we really haven’t had since Paul MacLean’s time with us.  We will have that position filled now as well.

I think it is as complete of a staff as we have had in my time with the focus being on putting together the best possible staff to help us win. I feel very strongly that we have been able to accomplish that.

While everybody has individual roles, of course, with the NHL schedule and demands of the schedule when preparing these players, having these resources is tremendous for us. It is a very collaborative staff. That is how I want it. That is how I run my team and our staff. Everybody will be able to assist one another. We have a tremendous amount of experience within our coaching staff now.

Is the passion Guy Boucher has for the power play tied to the talent that you have on the team or something new that he might be able to bring that could make it even more potent?

Keefe: I think if you speak to Guy Boucher, he believes the power play is a real strength of his as a coach dating back to when he first started in junior hockey working his way up to the World Juniors and ultimately to the NHL. Even as a head coach, the power play is something he has spent a lot of time with and feels very strongly about.

Like anybody I spoke to through this process, he is very excited about the opportunity to work with elite players like we have. It has been a very successful power play here, especially in the last couple of years. Spencer Carbery did a terrific job for us. Because of the job that Spencer Carbery did, to me, the standard is set. It is really high. The expectations of our players are really high. This was a very important hire — to bring someone in with great experience and a great skill set to be able to work with them.

It is not just the passion that he has but he also has a great philosophy with it. He recognizes the strength of our power play, and I think he can work with that and enhance that and continue to build our group that way.

What is the connection between you and Guy Boucher? 

Keefe: In my time here as coach of the Leafs, we have had available positions previously. He and I have spoken about those at different times. It just wasn’t a fit and the timing wasn’t right at that time, but again, with an available position now, we had spoken again and spent significant time together as I was going through the process with a number of others.

I spent even more time with Guy, and ultimately, I just found it was a great fit for where we are at and what we need with Spencer Carbery’s departure. The standards are very high. We need a very experienced and confident coach to be able to come in and fill that position.

Over the course of time, the history Guy and I have together and the communication we have had over the years certainly helped. It was really solidified by the time we spent together.

Through this process with Guy and others, I asked Shane Doan to sit in and take part in some of the early discussions with different candidates to gain a different perspective. From there, once we narrowed it down, it was about me finding the right fit and spending time one-on-one with different people in person and working through that.

It was extensive. I believe these are very important hires. As a result, you need to be extremely thorough. I believe that we were. The more and more time I spent with Guy, it was very clear that he would be a great fit for us.

Was there any hesitance regarding the fact that he has been out of the league for three or four years?

Keefe: I wouldn’t call it hesitation, necessarily, but that is why you probably spend even more time talking with him, making sure he still has that fire and passion for coaching and is still in tune with what is happening in the league.

He has been connected with the league in his role in media, so that in and of itself helps ease some of that. Again, I asked more questions and you dig in more. You don’t have as short of a window in terms of looking at where he has been in the past year like in Van Ryn’s case.

You are asking more questions and spending more time to be certain about where he is at. The more time I spent with him, it became clear that he hasn’t missed a step in that sense. He is very excited to get back to work. We are excited to have him.

How much was experience a consideration in the process, with Guy Boucher’s past head coaching experience around the world and Mike Van Ryn’s history in the league as a player?

Keefe: There have been tremendous experiences for both of them. I think you are selling Mike Van Ryn short here in talking about his playing career. He won a Stanley Cup running the defense in St. Louis and was a great head coach himself with the Tucson Roadrunners in the American league and in Kitchener before that.

I have known Mike from my days coaching junior hockey. We have stayed in touch quite a bit. We have a great relationship there. He has done a lot to develop as a coach. I think the playing experience you mentioned is valuable, but most importantly, it is how he has developed as a coach and the experiences that he has gotten being a part of St. Louis’ staff and his own development as a head coach.

I think both he and Guy bring a great skill set to our staff. We want to be a collaborative staff. We want people to be versatile and be able to help you in all sorts of different ways while still focusing on whatever their main focus is and executing on that.  If we are going to be collaborative, we want to have great people. I certainly feel confident about that.

In your experience, what are the benefits and impacts on the staff when bringing in new assistants?

Keefe: In my experience, it has been very positive. If I reflect back to a similar process we went through back when we were seeking to replace Dave Hakstol, we ended up hiring not just Dean Chynoweth but also Spencer Carbery at that time.

As you go through this, you are always working with the goal in mind of giving your team and the organization the best opportunity to succeed. I am very fortunate that we have an organization here that can provide me with the resources to help us win. There is no hesitation to add an additional guy to our staff.

You just get excited and you feel really confident that with the resources we have, we will, most importantly, be able to provide the players with everything that they need to be at their best. It is going to be a collaborative staff. While everyone has their own role, it is going to be a collaborative staff, and with the voices and personalities, I am really excited to get everybody together and get to work.

What is your perspective on some of the signings Brad Treliving has made and how they might change the dynamic of the roster for next season?

Keefe: I really like the guys that we have added here. This is, of course, not the time for me to speak about that. I will get more than enough time to speak about how excited I am about our signings and our additions. The process Brad went through to be able to fill the holes that we had with some of the players that left our lineup has me very excited.

My main focus, of course, has been solidifying our coaching staff. Now that we have this done, we are even more excited to get in and get to work even further on preparing our team for camp and getting to know the individuals that much more.

How would you describe this summer for you personally with Brad coming in and being tasked with trying to fill out your staff? Have you had any chance to breathe?

Keefe: I am on vacation now. This is a little bit of a sample of how it has been. It has been busy. There has been a lot going on. As much as you want downtime and it is really important, I am really excited and passionate about what I do, what my job is, and what my responsibility is. Getting to know and work with new people, with Brad and Shane Doan coming in, has been really great for me. It has been exciting.

It has been at times uncomfortable going through my process. Any time you are looking to hire people, it is sometimes a challenging process as well to make sure you are finding the right fit. Obviously, in our situation, with the standard being so high, we want to make sure we get it right so you want to spend even more time.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that the offseason has really begun, but I enjoy being busy. We will find some time here as we get toward August to relax. I have enjoyed spending some time here and there to be able to catch my kids in their summer sports and all of that sort of stuff. We will have more than enough time to recharge for the season.

Has there been any progress on your own contract extension, or is it on the back burner for now?

Keefe: It is something that has been mentioned a number of times by Brad that we are going to get to that.

Really, both of us have been focused on our own individual roles. For me, it is just about this process of solidifying our coaching staff. Brad has a number of other things that are at the top of the list for him.

I am not too concerned about it at this point in time. I have really just enjoyed my time working with Brad. I have been so focused on this process that the other stuff, to me, will work itself out over time.

Analysis of the new hires