A flaming two-headed monster

14Jun07

Well, this one’s out of left field. Mike Keenan’s replacing Jim Playfair in Calgary.

Anyone see that coming? If so, you’ve got much better ESP than I do.

To say that this is an interesting situation is an understatement. With Darryl Sutter still running the show in Calgary, you’ve got one stubborn-headed GM who wants to mold a team in his own image. With Playfair, Sutter had his puppet — a hand-picked man who operated under the Sutter mentality but could maybe, just maybe inspire some creativity out of the abrasively efficient Sutter troops. Playfair managed to eek more offense out of his squad (anyone else think that Kristian Huselius would have actually reached the same point total under Sutter? Didn’t think so), but his squad lacked focus and motivation on the road, so much so that the home Calgary Flames and the away Calgary Flames looked like bizarro versions of each other.

Now Sutter’s got Iron Mike Keenan behind the bench. Keenan, the fire-breathing monster that has found devotees (Jeremy Roenick, Chris Pronger, Joe Thornton) and legions of people who hate his guts. Keenan’s headstrong and brash and not afraid to tell the GM what he thinks should be done.

So now you’ve got the GM who treats his job just like any Sutter going into the corners for a puck vs. the my-way-or-the-highway coach who just happens to have a history of both pulling out brilliant performances out of underachievers and driving GMs nuts. Sutter must think that his own brash stubborness can control Keenan, and maybe he’s right. Or maybe, hockey just found its own version of The Surreal Life. All that’s left is Jeremy Roenick to play the role of the comedic assistant coach.

And if Keenan has pull with Sutter, maybe Miikka Kiprusoff will get traded for a broken over-the-hill forward and a serviceable defenseman.

Update: Several people have pointed out one thing which I had forgotten about the relationship Keenan and Sutter had in the Blackhawks organization (as a former Blackhawks fan, I think I’d blocked that out of my memory). That’s a good point; it still remains to be seen whether or not that mutual respect will affect Keenan’s track record of power-grabbing or Sutter’s track record of stubbornness.

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4 Responses to “A flaming two-headed monster”

  1. 1 HockeyNutz

    I’m very gay and looking for some gay sex. Write to me at my blog:

    http://imhockeynutz.blogspot.com

  2. 2 Ian

    Thanks for sharing, hockeynutz.

    The thing you left out was that Darryl Sutter was Keenan’s protege in Chicago, and replaced him when Keenan left for the Rangers. I suppose the only GM that Iron Mike could get along with (apart from himself) is Darryl.

    Is it a smart move, though? Doubtful. It’s been a long time since Keenan was a successful NHL coach, and he hasn’t really evolved in his philosophy about the game. (As an aside, one of the amazing things about Scotty Bowman was his ability to adapt to large scale changes in the game as they were happening).

    Calgary was a tough place to lure free agents to begin with, and there are scant few Keenanites left from his Blackhawks/Rangers glory years. Stephane Matteau may buy a house in the Calgary area though, just, you know, ‘cuz.

    It’s sort of typical DS thinking: toughen up the team and get ’em working hard. All at the expense of true offense and skill, in an era where you need both to win.

  3. 3 Mike Chen

    I heard Brian Noonan’s not doing anything these days.

  4. 4 Anonymous

    Better do your research Mike. Like Ian said, Keenan was Sutter’s mentor and they’ve been friends for years.


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