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.