Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe couldn’t have been more excited to get the 2020-21 NHL season underway. Last season Keefe replaced Mike Babcock a month or so into the season and this was the first, albeit shorter than normal training camp for the young head coach. Keefe is working with a bunch of new faces as his pal and general manager, Kyle Dubas turned over some of the roster.
One name that was brought in was forward Jimmy Vesey and Keefe’s message to Vesey, who has managed a spot on the team’s second-line was simple – ‘Do What Zach Hyman Does’.
Sheldon Keefe essentially telling Jimmy Vesey to play a Zach Hyman-like blue-collar role for Tavares-Nylander: First on forecheck, disrupt, cause turnovers, feed the playmakers. His season will not be judged on goals and points.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) January 11, 2021
Vesey has made it be known it’s taken him a few days to get his wind and his legs under him after not playing for nine months. The ‘shock to his system’ is because Vesey is in the middle of the hardest NHL training camp he’s ever been apart of. With no preseason games and only 10 days to get up to speed, you can’t blame Coach Keefe for pushing his group.
Vesey will skate with John Tavares and William Nylander, which besides Joe Thornton with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, is the best case scenario for the 27-year-old. Vesey signed for one year and if he performs well this season, he could easily turn this relationship into something more long-term.
It’s all going to come down to how long he can clone Zach Hyman. Vesey just better hope Keefe doesn’t ask him to start writing children’s books.