Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Keenan leaves Florida Tuesday with a smile

Pretty well any Calgary Flames road trip these days is going to bring head coach Mike Keenan somewhere familiar. Bringing him back to a place where the locals may not be particularly inclined to host a welcome home party.

But Tuesday in South Florida, Keenan returned to the most recent stop on his coaching CV, an outpost where it seems little is really known about the game, but still much is remembered about the former coach and General Manager.

By the time that Keenan had left Florida, he had traded away the blossoming Roberto Luongo, a gift of a trade to the Vancouver Canucks that brought Todd Bertuzzi to Florida for a brief vacation, seemingly destroyed a long time friendship with Jacques Martin and greased the skids for Keenan’s departure prior to the 2006-07 season.

While he can count the successful years of New York and Chicago in the fond memory files, we suspect that like his time in Vancouver, his Florida timeshare with the Panthers was not his most satisfying of hours.

The Panthers never seemed to get focused, let alone play up to any potential that they might have had under Keenan. He describes that team as one that wasn’t ready to win and well they certainly proved that he at least recognized ineptitude when he saw it.

Not that things seem to have changed much since his departure. Tuesday, his new team the Calgary Flames, playing in Florida for the first time in five years (betcha that the Panther fans didn’t even know they were in the league) they managed to overcome the Panthers with a 2-1 shoot out victory.

It was captain Jarome Iginla who saved the night, scoring with but ten seconds to go in the game to send it into overtime, Miikka Kiprusoff did his part by shutting down the Panthers in the over time and shoot out phase of the game, while former Panther Kristian Huselius secured the win for the Flames and for the former face of hockey in Florida.

It’s a face that still can ratchet up the emotions even after he’s long departed.

South Florida Sun Sentinel--Keenan says return not so special
Palm Beach Post--Split hasn't fazed Keenan

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