Sports Leafs’ Tyson Barrie has new lease on life with Sheldon Keefe at the helm
What Maple Leafs did differently in first game under Sheldon Keefe
The Hockey Central panel broke down the details of Sheldon Keefe’s strategic changes to the Maple Leafs’ game during his first contest behind the bench. The post Sheldon Keefe’s journey from playing to coaching in the NHL appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.After a disappointing start to the 2019-20 campaign, team president Brendan Shanahan and GM Kyle Dubas pulled the trigger on a coaching change that saw Mike Babcock exit after four seasons with the club and Keefe move up from the AHL.
DENVER — When Tyson Barrie was at his absolute best as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, he and Nathan MacKinnon established a rule: Barrie was not allowed to get off the ice during a power play before his partner in crime.
“If I changed he’d yell at me,” said Barrie. “He’d ask me if I was tired or whatever. He wanted me back there so I just kind of changed whenever he changed.”
That helps explain how the puck-distributing defenceman ended up with more power-play ice time than everyone else at his position over the past two seasons and accumulated more points than all but John Carlson and Keith Yandle in that game state.
Maple Leafs debut new lines at first practice with coach Sheldon Keefe
The Sheldon Keefe era in Toronto has officially begun. Taking the ice with his new squad for the first time Thursday, the new Maple Leafs coach shook up his line combinations ahead of the club’s meeting with the Arizona Coyotes. The post Vasek Pospisil somehow feeling relaxed through this epic run appeared first on Sportsnet.ca.Much has been made over the past 24 hours of the changes Keefe could bring to the Maple Leafs lineup upon assuming control of the bench. Taking the ice with the club for the first time Thursday, the new head coach made some key tweaks to the team’s forward lines in hopes of quelling the club’s six-game losing streak.
It may also hold the key to rediscovering his lost confidence after a puzzling first few months with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For it was not by coincidence that Sheldon Keefe decided to elevate Barrie to the team’s top power-play unit as part of his first changes as head coach. He also put him alongside Morgan Rielly to start Thursday’s game in Arizona — a move that was part precursor of things to come, part reassuring touch on the shoulder for a guy who never found any footing under previous coach Mike Babcock.
As much as Barrie didn’t think it was a vote of confidence he needed with more than 500 NHL games and three 50-point seasons already under his belt, he appreciated the gesture. And it was immediately followed by his first goal in Leafs colours just in time for Saturday’s return to his old stomping grounds.
Barrie, Engvall lead Maple Leafs to 3-1 win over Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Tyson Barrie scored his first goal of the season and Pierre Engvall got the first of his career to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. Auston Matthews also scored early in the third and Frederik Anderson stopped 30 shots to help the Maple Leafs snap a six-game losing streak (0-5-1) and win in Sheldon Keefe’s coaching debut. Auston Matthews also scored early in the third and Frederik Anderson stopped 30 shots to help the Maple Leafs snap a six-game losing streak (0-5-1) and win in Sheldon Keefe’s coaching debut. Keefe took over for the fired Mike Babcock on Wednesday.
“I’m not going to lie: That feels good, especially going into Denver,” Barrie said after the 3-1 victory over the Coyotes. “I didn’t want to go in with no goals.”
Following a July 1 trade that saw the Leafs give up their best-value contract, Nazem Kadri, for Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot, the 28-year-old defenceman represented a fault line between Babcock and general manager Kyle Dubas.
Not only did he have his power-play usage cut in half, there almost seemed to be paralysis by analysis with what the coaching staff wanted him to do at even strength. He was a round peg being hammered into a square hole at the expense of his instincts and he suffered through a two-assists-in-19-games slump that made his situation in Toronto look untenable as recently as a week ago.
“You know I’m trying. I think it’s obviously weighing on me a little bit,” Barrie said on Nov. 14. “I’ve never really gone through a stretch like this in my career and switching teams for the first time. You don’t want to feel like you’re letting teammates down and the fans down.”
Three takeaways from Toronto Maple Leafs' 5-3 win over Colorado Avalanche
Tyson Barrie got a goal and assist in a 5-3 victory over his former team on Saturday.It was the first time this season that these two clubs have met, and also marked the first time that defenseman Tyson Barrie and center Nazem Kadri would get the opportunity to face their former clubs. Both players were able to contribute to their respective offenses, but Toronto's forecheck was better as the Leafs again managed to score at least four goals.
Barrie believes he’s found a new lease on life under Keefe, who is determined to find him a role that looks more like the one he once filled here in Colorado. That will include more shifts beside Rielly and a chance to work the puck around on a power play that features Auston Matthews, John Tavares and William Nylander.
As an offensive play-driver, he certainly fits the profile of the kind of player the new coach is hoping to lean on.
“We feel like with some of the offensive people that we have and what we’re able to do, that that will make us a better defensive team because we’ll have the puck a lot more,” said Keefe. “We’ll put the other team in tough spots that will limit their ability to transition and play against us.”
When Keefe took time during his introductory press conference to say he was focusing on the kind of team the Leafs are, rather than what they’re not, it was hard not to think of Barrie. He’s never been a strong defensive player, per se, but he has a unique vision and a proven ability to make plays with the puck.
The off-season trade to Toronto caught him off-guard and he’s taken ownership of his own role in the slow start. This can’t all be explained away by a differing view from the coach. But his outlook seemed to turn on a dime when Keefe showed an immediate willingness to build him up and the Leafs bench erupted when Barrie jumped off the point to finally score on his 61st shot this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs fire head coach Mike Babcock, promote Sheldon Keefe to role
TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs have fired head coach Mike Babcock replaced him with Sheldon Keefe. Babcock had a record of 9-10-4 in 2019-20 for the struggling Leafs, who are 0-5-1 in their last six games, including five straight losses in regulation. Hired as part of Toronto's massive rebuild in the spring of 2015, the 56-year-old Babcock went 173-133-45 in his four-plus seasons with Toronto. After signing the richest coaching contract in NHL history at US$50 million over eight years, Babcock got Toronto to the playoffs the last three straight seasons, but was unable to advance beyond the first round.
“I think that’s a big monkey off the back for him,” said Matthews.
That monkey was heavier than most because Barrie is in a contract year and had been trending towards one of the least productive seasons of his career.
He’s still dealing with a sense of impermanence — he and Kadri simply switched houses after being traded for one another, with Barrie not really in a position to lay down stronger roots in Toronto — and will be reminded of what he’s left behind this weekend.
“I’ve got to maybe pick up some mail,” he said.
Barrie also planned to grab dinner with MacKinnon and some other former teammates on Friday night. It’s a group he remains tight with after spending a decade in the Avalanche organization and essentially growing into a man in Denver.
There’ll be some different feelings and emotions to contend with when he returns to Pepsi Center as a visitor. He’ll know the guys on the opposite side of the ice much better than he does his own.
“Oh, I’ll tell you who I’m not looking forward to seeing,” said Barrie, in reference to his old buddy MacKinnon, the NHL’s most explosive skater this side of Connor McDavid.
“Yeah. I’ve never played against him in my life,” he said. “I’ve been on the fortunate end of that one when he’s playing well. I’m sure he’ll take it easy on me.”
Barrie leads Maple Leafs past Avalanche 5-3 .
DENVER — A quick goal by Colorado got Tyson Barrie's homecoming off to a rough start, but Toronto's dominating stretch helped him celebrate in his return to Denver. Barrie had a goal and an assist during a four-goal burst in the first period, leading the Maple Leafs to a 5-3 victory over the Avalanche on Saturday night. Auston Matthews also had a goal and an assist as Toronto earned its second straight win since Sheldon Keefe took over after Mike Babcock was fired Wednesday. Keefe coached the Maple Leafs to a 3-1 win at Arizona on Thursday night and had to survive a frenetic ending to earn another victory.