Saturday, May 23, 2009

Eight down, twenty two to go

The lengthy coaching career of Mike Keenan can collect another exit visa, as the Calgary Flames announced on Friday that Mr. Keenan would not be part of their plans for the 2009-2010 season.

Keenan who arrived in Calgary two years ago had mixed results during his short time in Alberta, his teams started each year with high expectations of success, only to find that their regular season progress was cut short after but one round of the second season.

While it's not unusual to put the words, Keenan and Fired together in a sentence, it wasn't supposed to end this way at stop number eight. Keenan a friend of Flames GM Darryl Sutter was expected to provide the sense of discipline that many felt that the Flames were missing, the legendary stare and caustic commentary however were apparently a thing of the past.

It was reported to be a kinder, gentler Keenan who went behind the bench in Calgary, one who provided a looser leash on his players than normally associated with his rule and in the end, it perhaps was that approach that did him during his stay in the Flames organization.

The early exit once again of the Flames from the playoffs, seemingly proved too much for the Flames ownership group to bear, with a team that had been built to contend for the Stanley Cup spending the last two springs watching the playoff action in rounds two, three and four from TV.

Some of the blame for the poor season will fall on the shoulders of Darryl Sutter who made a number of moves this season that have raised eyebrows in relation to salary cap room and additions to a line up that didn't play out as planned.

But it was the inability of the coach that Sutter picked to get things done, that eventually proved to be the final word.

With Keenan still owed one year on his contract the Flames will have to be careful in the off season to select a new coach (if Sutter doesn't step back in) one who can best motivate the mixture of talent experienced or not that make up the Flames roster.

Two names that instantly have been shuffled around have been those of Brent or Duane Sutter, a move that would make the Flames the domain of the Viking bred Sutters, returning the team to that style of play that all of the Sutters provided during their days on the ice in the NHL.

The names of speculation will grow over the summer months, but in the short term once again the team will be under the rule of Darryl Sutter, who will craft together a squad for next season starting with the draft table in June.

He'll provide the players for the sweaters, it will be up to whomever replaces Keenan to make sure that their effort is full whenever they pull them on.
Or maybe he'll take on the job once again himself and try to turn around the team that seemed on a course to Stanley Cup destiny only a few short years ago.

Globe and Mail-- Flames fire Keenan
Calgary Sun-- Flames fire Keenan

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