The stories are starting to filter through from the Panther enclave in Florida, and the tales seem to suggest that Mike Keenan didn’t seem to be getting along very well with the other kids in the sandbox.
Steve Gorten of the South Florida Sun Sentinel quotes a “source” that says, Mike just felt unhappy because Mike wants to be his own man," the source said. "He needs to have full power. Jacques had different ideas.
Not particularly surprising for a guy that has been nicknamed Iron Mike, but in this case there is a bit of wonderment at how two guys that described themselves as friends, could get so off the same page. The dynamic as the Panthers refer to the Martin/Keenan partnership seems to have started to sour last year, with Keenan apparently at odds with everyone in the organization.
Interestingly enough, despite all the melodrama in Florida this week, Martin says that things are still fine personally between he and Iron Mike. This despite some reports that Keenan actually had tried to have him fired last year.
In that Sentinel story Gorten tells of combative contract negotiations and a bid by Panthers owner Alan Cohen to get Keenan to be more “agreeable”, which judging by NHL history would be quite the thing, perhaps worthy of an investigation by the Vatican.
In the end it came down to a power struggle, easily won by Martin, who now takes on the dual role of coach and GM. It’s a task that many say is too large now in the new NHL, for the laid back Martin to tackle. Combined with the rather hands on (read meddling), but head off ownership in Florida, the situation in Pantherland is not particularly stable.
As for Keenan, he was supposedly offered a buyout of his contract as opposed to having the final three years paid out. The inference there one guesses, is that he must have left a trail of bad behavior that will work against him should he wish to claim the entire three years left on his contract. Although, that might be a warning for Martin, that a contract is a contract only if the guy signing the cheques is willing to honour it.
Once again, as with any news when Keenan is considered, there always remain more questions than answers at the end of the day.