Keenan Fired

This is Mike Keenan in the uniform of St. Lawrence University. He’d be early 20′s in this photo. Keenan has been one of the NHL’s most famous coaches since arriving on the scene 25 years ago. The golden era for Keenan was ’84-’94 but he has been getting jobs with little playoff success for many years now.

Keenan’s Rangers won the Stanley in 1994, and he coached a pennant winner three other times (’85, ’87 Flyers, ’92 Hawks) but the Flames job lasted only 2 seasons and has ended in disappointment.

From the men who belong to his generation (Keenan is 59) he seems destined to replace Don Cherry as a salty television icon.

I wouldn’t mention this story (this is a Flames item) save for the way he was fired. A press release. GM Sutter won’t meet the media until next week, and the timing (Friday afternoon in late spring) is a beautiful thing (it must be in the Liberal Red Book–all bad news media releases get sent out after 2PM Friday) if you’re trying to avoid crowds.

I think it’s a little arrogant to be honest. The organization owes their fanbase a full accounting of this moment–why it happened, when it happened, what the future brings. Darryl Sutter is a salty fellow in his own right, but this smacks of disregard for the paying customer.

Lord knows the Oilers take a beating from this blog and their fans, but credit where due: a media conference with sound bites is the least you can do for the people who pay the bills.

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27 Responses to "Keenan Fired"

  1. PDO says:

    The best part?

    Sutter is still in charge.

    He’s got two albatross contracts to his name (lets call him the 6’3″ version of Bergeron along with the guy whose SV% has dropped every year since 03-04). And of course the Jokinen contract he brought in, even if Keenan had his nose in it.


  2. Dennis says:

    I imagine they’ll be some accompanying Brent Sutter news?

    Say what you want about the way Darryl Sutter treats the media and fans but at least they make the fucking playoffs.

    Then again, the Oilers don’t have the payroll capabilities of the Flames!

  3. HBomb says:

    Pointing and laughing to know they’re stuck with Kiprusoff for another five years. Almost six million a year for barely-above-replacement-level goaltending? Genius.

    At least there’s a chance that Phaneuf will get better (he’s certainly not in Weber/Bouwmeester territory currently, despite what Pierre Maguire might tell you).

    And Jokinen, well, that guy just flat out sucks.

  4. Lowetide says:

    The Flames are burning daylight on some outstanding players. Iginla, Regehr, these are men in the heart of their careers. The only young players 23 or younger this season who helped out are Phaneuf and Boyd.

    The Oilers on the other hand have a 25-year old Ales Hemsky leading the scoring race, a 19-year old in Gagner, 21-year old Andrew Cogliano and 22-year old Ladislav Smid. The 23-year olds are Pouliot, Stortini and O’Sullivan.

    One team was built for the playoffs, the other is forever young.

  5. Lord Bob says:

    Let me the first to say it.

    Mike Keenan to Edmonton?

  6. Lowetide says:

    Lord Bob: I can’t see it. Keenan’s impact on any NHL team has been less and less for a long time, plus he’s a Billy Martin-type. Best suited for a veteran team that’s close to winning it all.

    At least he was when it worked.

  7. Showerhead says:

    Lord Bob: I’m surprised it took 5 posts to get there. I wonder if he gets an interview?

    Dennis re: Brent – was my thought as well. What’s the latest out of NJ? I certainly don’t see a reason for them to fire him. Brodeur though, that’s another story.

    Re: Phaneuf – While I’m always happy to share his grotesque playoffs minus, negligible even strength role, and defensive shortcomings (if he makes the Olympic team I will eat my shoes) I think he’s on a track to be a reasonably good defenseman. Still a kid, let’s not write him off out of rivalry or hubris.

    The basis of Lowetide’s original post is an interesting one though.
    I think the most important thing was for Sutter to let Keenan know in a professional way. As far as real lives, real people, and real consequences go I don’t think a press conference is ideal. That said, like Joe Sakic potentially delaying retirement until the playoffs are over, there comes a time when you should be aware that your choices, however personal, affect a lot of people. Maybe a Friday afternoon release was a douchebag move. At the very least it is a quiet douchery, one that won’t get roundly criticized, one that people aren’t going to remember and one that won’t cloud Calgary’s image to the rest of the NHL. In Edmonton’s case, the douchiness is often easy enough to rationalize (offer sheets, Comrie payout, various Lowe comments these past few years) but not that easy to defend in terms of image and public perception of the organization.

  8. Kevin says:

    I think if either Keenan or Crawford is hired, it’s time to start cheering for Columbus.

  9. Southern Oil says:


    This is the first time that I have posted here. I read your blog on a daily basis and am a fan of your stuff.

    To steal a baseball analogy, as I know you like to do from time to time, I would like you opinion on the comparisons to the late 80s Blue Jays & the Flames. I really think for some reason there are larger issues working here than coaching. I think the Flames could really use a McGriff & Fernandez for Carter & Alomar type of deal this summer. Instead, all that Sutter is prepared to do is switch coaches again and again and again.

    I really hope he hires his brother because that will spell the end of the whole Sutter movement in Calgary IMO (if they don't win it all that is.)

  10. Lowetide says:

    Southern Oil: I think the Flames did a lot of things right but they’ve also traded a lot of their future and some of the moves this season seemed a little bizarre. They effectively moved Lombardi AND Cammalleri for Jokinen (Lombardi at the deadline and they can’t sign Cammallari now) and of course their G situation is a little wobbly.

    I think they could have just as easily fired the GM too today and it would have done them as good. But Sutter arrived at a time when the Flames hadn’t seen the playoffs in forever and as Dennis mentioned earlier that certainly has value.

    As for the Blue Jays situation, it’s an interesting point. Could Sutter pull off a big trade like that?

  11. R O says:


    None of us Flames fans who follow the team at anything beyond G-A-P analysis or drooling over Bertuzzi’s “clutchness” were thrilled with Lombardi leaving the team. At all.

    I don’t follow baseball – could you explain the Blue Jays analogy?

  12. Southern Oil says:

    No I don’t think Sutter could pull off a move like Gillick made. I think that’s his problem. His tinkering with his club has screwed it all up. I remember for the longest time Flames fans saying they needed someone to play with Iginla. Well they had it this year and it didn’t make a bit of difference. I wouldn’t hang it all on Iginla’s shoulders but something isn’t right in Flame land and it’s not the coach that’s the problem.

    I look at the 2004 team and they let go a lot of heart and sole role players and brought in higher skill/higher name guys. That hasn’t worked well so far. I think they could stand a big shake up over there in player personnel.

    I think we could learn something from them. We need to be less concerned about someone being able to play with Hemsky and more concerned with the overall club.

  13. R O says:

    @Southern Oil:

    Iginla took a huge step back this year, Phaneuf wasn’t himself (possibly injured all year), and Kipper continued to slide. Yet I thought this iteration of the Flames was the best I’ve seen post-lockout (certainly the ES shot +/- and corsi figures support that) and a big reason was superior forward depth. The flashiest Sutter moves were finding guys to play with Iginla, but he also fixed the bottom six with Glencross and Bourque and voila – the Flames were a better team.

    Which is all to say – you’re right about success coming from depth. But the Flames had awesome forward depth this season.

  14. Jfry says:

    this is what a Calgary fan is telling me:

    “TSN leaked the story and Sutter had to issue a press release. At no point was it his intention for it to come out today as per Peter Maher, Rob Kerr and a bunch of media types in the know. Sutter had a press conference apparently planned for Tuesday where he would announce it.”

  15. Lord Bob says:

    I’m playing devil’s advocate on the Keenan bandwagon here. But I think we can all agree that he did the best he could in Calgary with the miserable material available.

    The book on Keenan’s always been that he’s at his best under a strong boss. Darryl Sutter was that and Keenan responded, coaching that team as well as anybody could and nursing them a lot further than they probably deserved to go. If Tambellini could provide the same sort of discipline, we might have something there.

  16. Schitzo says:

    Lord Bob: If Keenan goes to Sutter and says “we’re a Bertuzzi and a Jokinen away from winning it all”, who gets the blame?

    Keenan got some of his favourite players this year, and it didn’t seem to amount to much.

  17. R O says:

    Lord Bob:

    Interesting thoughts. Why do you believe that Calgary’s personnel, as a whole, was miserable? I thought certainly there were marginal players at D, and an obvious liability in Bertuzzi, but… we also had difference makers like Iginla and Regehr.

    One could make the argument that the Flames actually deserved to go further – and in fact I will make the argument. After all, this is the Oilogosphere, and much attention is payed to shots +/- and Corsi +/- as an indicator of how good teams are, and the Flames were among the leaders in both categories this season.

  18. Lord Bob says:

    Lord Bob: If Keenan goes to Sutter and says “we’re a Bertuzzi and a Jokinen away from winning it all”, who gets the blame?

    Remember what I said about a strong GM? Would have been great for the Flames if Sutter had been a little stronger then!

    Interesting thoughts. Why do you believe that Calgary’s personnel, as a whole, was miserable? I thought certainly there were marginal players at D, and an obvious liability in Bertuzzi, but… we also had difference makers like Iginla and Regehr.

    Iginla and Regehr are absolute bluechippers, and forward depth was a strength (until the Jokinen trade). Defense was a glaring weakness, and goaltending was a critical weakness. If you can’t play defense and you can’t play goal, no team that ever existed has gone far.

  19. R O says:

    If you can’t play defense and you can’t play goal, no team that ever existed has gone far.Fair enough.

  20. PunjabiOil says:

    They effectively moved Lombardi AND Cammalleri for Jokinen (Lombardi at the deadline and they can’t sign Cammallari now) and of course their G situation is a little wobbly.There was also a first round pick that they gave up.

  21. bookie says:

    I am pretty sure Lord Bob was joking with the Keenan to Edmonton talk…but then people started taking him seriously…and then I realized that you are all either stoned, drunk, or just plane crazy and then I calmed down…

    I would quit if Keenan was hired in Edmonton.

  22. Lord Bob says:

    bookie is, of course, correct. I’m playing devil’s advocate with all this Keenan talk and would never hire him if I were GM.

    I mean, he didn’t play so much as a minute for the Oilers in the eighties!

  23. James Mirtle says:

    Any news you don’t want to make a big splash comes out on Friday night… happens all the time in the NHL. My guess is they informed Keenan and he tipped off some of his pals in the media. That had to have been anticipated.

    Waiting until Tuesday for the presser is a bit much.

  24. Dennis says:

    I get the whole idea of having a bit of a chuckle at the Flames – I always cheer for them to get knocked out of the class – but the Oilers have made so many missteps that I’m a lot more concerned with that magical time when the Oilers right their own ship.

  25. anonymous says:

    Coach’s heyday long past: Regehr
    Calgary Herald, May 23, 2009

    “If you don’t adapt, it doesn’t work anymore. It’s be-come a lot more technical”…

    “The biggest difference from back then is the margin of error”…

    “You really have to be very, very disciplined in the way the team plays and the structure of the way the team plays.”…

    “I think anyone who has watched our team here in the last year or two years, they’ve seen that our team is very inconsistent”…

    “I think that had a lot to do with the philosophy that was brought to the team by Mike.”…

    “We need a coach who will come in and have a current philosophy”…

  26. anonymous says:

    Skill and will from the players and coach.

    The Flames defense dropped from No. 1 in 2005-06 to No. 23 in 2008-09. Remind me why we would want Keenan. Surely not the No. 21 power play to go with that No. 23 defense?

  27. Art Vandelay says:

    I’d bet Brent to Calgary for a compensatory pick. He made himself a lame-duck coach down the stretch, did he not? No way he’s behind the bench in NJ next year. Yet there isn’t a team that wouldn’t hire him. Would be a huge win for Calgary.

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