Tuesday, March 14, 2006

An unexpected headline!

Jokinin credits Keenan for his confidence in the Panthers!

You kind of have to do a double take whenever you see the term credit and Keenan in the same sentence. For years, we’ve heard nothing but stories of Iron Mike’s reign of terror wherever he was and how players couldn’t wait to be out of his galaxy.

Keenan has been a fixture in the NHL since he first arrived on the scene in Philadelphia back in 1984, best known for being at the helm when the New York Rangers finally ended their Stanley Cup drought, stories of the mercurial nature of Keenan have been filing newspapers and broadcast reports for years.

The Keenan years in Vancouver are the thing of legend, the media and hockey fans of the West coast comparing it to the days of Genghis Khan’s rule of the Far East. By bringing in Mark Messier and banishing the ever popular Trevor Linden to the Islanders at the time, Keenan guaranteed that his stay in Vancouver would be a controversial affair.

As before his time in Chicago left bodies and blood on the floor, he would eventually find himself searching for a new challenge and new group of players to strike the fear of Mike into. The St. Louis days were a controversial stop on the path as well, with player revolts a common thing there. With his arrival in Florida and the subsequent dive in the standings, many thought that it was the same old Mike and the same old results.

A few heads were raised when Keenan brought in former Senators head coach Jacques Martin to take over the coaching duties. Martin’s Ottawa teams never could get over that bump in the playoff road (normally called Toronto) but few doubted his ability to put together a winning program in the regular season. Beyond that, he’s almost the anti-thesis of Keenan, calm, quiet and rarely if ever sarcastic.

The combination of the two must be like a passive-aggressive festival in the Sunshine state. Either that or the combination of old age and constant sunshine appeals to the mellower side of the Keenan personality.

These are interesting noises are coming out of Miami these days; Jokinen signs a huge contract and credits Keenan with his success. Sounding like the re-incarnation of Mark Messier (a long time Keenan favourite) Jokinen is busy suggesting that fellow Panther Roberto Luongo should sign on the dotted line and get ready for the ride to the Promised Land.

It’s expected that Keenan will be dipping into the free agent market quite heavily in the off season, those years of ineptitude and cost cutting leaving him with a bit of cap room for the year ahead.

He’s got Jokinen singing from the same song sheet and hopes to add Luongo to the choir as well. Considering the reputation of the man, the song sheet that once probably was akin to a thrash metal band, now features the sweet sing-a-longs of a Sunday morning choir service. Everything is Good, Everything is uplifting!

Tis a strange thing that can happen in the Florida sun, a strange thing!

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