Marlies coach: Leafs’ Justin Holl was steadily gaining respect

Frederik Andersen earned the shutout while Travis Dermott and Justin Holl scored their first NHL goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Islanders.

Whenever Toronto Marlies head coach Sheldon Keefe watches one of his players graduate to the big leagues and succeeds, he can’t help but feel like a proud papa.

“To see them move up and get those opportunities, you feel great for them,” Keefe said on The Good Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Thursday afternoon.

One night prior, defenceman Justin Holl scored a goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs in his NHL debut, a 5-0 win over the New York Islanders. No doubt it brought a smile to Keefe, who has coached Holl over the past three seasons with the AHL club.

“It’s pretty special to see his growth and what he’s overcome and the work he’s put in to develop from the East Coast league to AHL contract to NHL contract,” Keefe told hosts Ben Ennis and JD Bunkis.

The 26-year-old Holl posted four goals and 20 points in 39 games for the Marlies this season. He got the emergency call up ahead of Wednesday’s game, with the Maple Leafs defence corps decimated — regulars Morgan Rielly (upper body), Roman Polak (viral infection) and Ron Hainsey (illness) were all scratched.

“It seemed like every season, every month, he was gaining more and more respect within the organization,” Keefe said of Holl. “So then to be counted upon in a situation like [Wednesday] is a great feather in his cap. To see him step in and perform on that stage, I’m sure is a great feeling for him.

“He’s really earned it and worked extremely hard, been a great player and a great teammate for us during his time with the Marlies.”

Keefe also discussed the strong play of Marlies goaltenders Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard, in addition to offering a scouting report on promising defence prospect Timothy Liljegren. Listen to the full interview in the audio player below.

Sheldon Keefe: Seemed like Holl was earning more respect every month
February 01 2018

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