Gord Dineen

Sheldon Keefe named head coach of the Toronto Marlies

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Sheldon Keefe has been named head coach of the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

Keefe won both the 2014-15 Canadian Hockey League and Ontario Hockey League coach of the year awards after leading the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds to a league-best 54-12-0-2 record.

“We would like to thank the Soo Greyhounds ownership group and General Manager Kyle Raftis for giving us permission to approach Sheldon a few weeks ago,” said Toronto Maple Leafs Assistant GM Kyle Dubas in a statement. “As we went through this process, given our goal of finding an elite young coach to develop our prospects with the Marlies, it was clear to our management group that Sheldon Keefe was the best choice for our organization. For nearly a decade – since he arrived in Pembroke and through his time in Sault Ste. Marie – Sheldon has simply excelled at maximizing each players potential while coaching very successful teams at the same time. That balance is exactly what we set out to find for the Marlies.

“We feel we have a solid group of young prospects with the Marlies and we look forward to Sheldon leading them beginning with our Development Camp in early July.”

Dubas hired Keefe to coach the Greyhounds when he was named the team’s GM in 2012.

The 34-year-old takes over as Marlies’ bench boss after Gord Dineen was removed last month. Dineen was offered an opportunity to remain with the club in a different role – there is no word on whether he’s accepted the re-assignment.

Dineen’s assistants Derek King and Ben Simon were also fired on May 19.

According to Frank Seravalli of the Daily News, Toronto interviewed Kris Knoblauch, who coached Connor McDavid and the OHL’s Erie Otters, for the Marlies’ position.

During his playing days Keefe appeared in 125 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning scoring 12 goals and 24 points.

NHL watching 3-on-3 OT in the AHL closely

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Much of November’s NHL general managers meetings in Toronto is used to set up a list of topics to discuss further, and more seriously, for meetings, which take place in March in Boca Raton, FL.

One of the items surely to be discussed in the new year is 3-on-3 overtime.

The American Hockey League is currently using the format and seeing excellent results.

As of Monday, only nine of the 45 OT games have required the shootout.

“We’ve always talked about the desire to get more games decided prior to the shootout,” said Blackhawks GM, Stan Bowman. “I think it’s trending that way. We’ll see how it plays out over the whole year.

“In the American Hockey League they’ve obviously had a bigger change in their numbers, but they have a little bit different format than we do.”

Hockey insider Bob McKenzie believes the league is heading in that direction:

Ken Holland is the brains behind the 3-on-3 format. He first introduced it during the Traverse City prospects tournament. Though he admits his suggestion of a dry scrape prior to the start of overtime was a bad idea, it seems like 3-on-3 may just work.

The AHL adopted the rule prior to the start of this season. Now any game going into overtime is played 4-on-4 for the first three minutes.Then at the first whistle following the three minute mark, the teams switch to 3-on-3 for the final four minutes or until a goal is scored.

“I saw it Saturday night in Grand Rapids. I thought it was fabulous,” said the Red Wings GM.

Where did the idea come from?

“Up here I guess, “ said Holland pointing to his head. “I don’t know… there’s a lot going on (in my head). Some funny stuff. We were one of two teams that didn’t vote for shootouts in 2005. I understand that we need to bring the game to a conclusion.”

Holland’s not the only one in favor of the format.

“I’ve always liked the idea,” said Blue Jackets GM, Jarmo Kekalainen. “I loved it in Traverse City. I haven’t seen it in the AHL, but the 3-on-3 at the Traverse City tournament was awesome in my opinion.”

The league does have its share of concerns surrounding the idea of 3-on-3 overtime.

“The hardest part to that is (the AHL) is playing, 3-on-3 or not, they’re playing an extra two minutes of overtime,” said NHL Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell. “We’ve got to take that into consideration. We’re playing five (minutes) they’re playing seven now.

“We’re watching and we didn’t want to make any decisions based on a fifth of the season. Our managers would like to see games come to completion more in overtime.”

In the AHL, early reaction has been positive from both coaches and players.

“I couldn’t imagine as a fan watching the game, seeing so many (scoring) opportunities,” said Rockford IceHogs defenseman, T.J. Brennan. “It’s a good way to determine the game through action and I think it’ll be good for the league.”

Added Toronto Marlies coach, Gord Dineen: “At least its decided in play and its not just a 1-on-1 situation. It’s a team game and so 3-on-3 is certainly brings a lot more of the team aspect of it than a shootout.”

There certainly won’t be any rule change this season, but next season, it appears overtime could feature 3-on-3 action.

PHT Morning Skate: Varlamov suffers ‘minor’ injury abroad

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov suffered an ankle injury in Switzerland that the team is calling “very minor.” That’s a relief for fans in the Rockies. (Denver Post)

Big week for the Dineen family. First Kevin lands an assistant job with the Chicago Blackhawks and now his brother Gord will be head coach of the AHL Toronto Marlies. (Toronto Sun)

A Blackhawks fan is suing the team because they were hit by a puck during a game in 2013. (ESPNChicago.com)

Carolina hired David Marcoux as their new goaltending coach. (Hurricanes)

Reclamation projects are nothing new for the Nashville Predators. (Rinkside Report)

Kasperi Kapanen is adjusting well already to life in Pittsburgh. (Penguins)

Sabres goalie Matt Hackett will be out until November or December after getting his knee wrecked last season. (Mike Harrington)

Did you know the Florida Panthers toyed with the idea of using teal in their color scheme? The ’90s I tell ya… (Icethetics)

Penguins prospect Dominik Uher is a trash-talking expert. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Predators signed fourth-round pick Viktor Arvidsson. Now we’ll be thinking of former Ottawa Senators forward Magnus Arvedson all day. Wait, just me? OK. (The Tennessean)

Finally, check out Sam Reinhart and Zemgus Girgensons getting to know each other during last night’s development camp scrimmage in Buffalo: