Mike Keenan

Michael Edward Keenan (born October 21, 1949) is a Canadian professional hockey coach who most recently coached the Kunlun Red Star of the Kontinental Hockey League. Previously, he served as head coach and/or general manager with several NHL teams between 1984 and 2009. He has also worked as an analyst for the New York Rangers on MSG Network and as a hockey analyst for NBC Sports Network.

Mike Keenan
Keenan, seen here in 2008 as the head coach of the NHL's Calgary Flames
Born (1949-10-21) October 21, 1949
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Previous team(s)OHL:
Peterborough Petes
Rochester Americans
Philadelphia Flyers
Chicago Blackhawks
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
Vancouver Canucks
Boston Bruins
Florida Panthers
Calgary Flames
Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Kunlun Red Star
Stanley Cup wins1994
Years as a coach1984–present
Years as an NHL coach1984–2009

Keenan won a Stanley Cup championship as coach of the New York Rangers in 1994. He also won the Gagarin Cup while coaching Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2014.[1]

Coaching career

NHL career

His first coaching job was at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Toronto, Ontario, where he coached the varsity hockey team. In 1977 he became the coach of the Oshawa Legionaires of the Metro Junior B Hockey League, where he led them to back-to-back championships in 1979 and 1980. The following year he began his junior coaching career with the Peterborough Petes before moving on to the Rochester Americans, which he guided to the American Hockey League championship in 1983. He returned to the University of Toronto to lead it to the CIAU title. He then landed his first high-profile job with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984, then the Chicago Blackhawks in 1988. In 1993, he took the job as New York Rangers head coach, and led the franchise to its first Stanley Cup win since 1940. Prior to the 1993 season, he was also a candidate for the Detroit Red Wings head coaching job that eventually went to Scotty Bowman.[2]

The 1994 season saw Keenan become the first to coach two teams to a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals, having previously coached the Flyers in a losing effort against the Edmonton Oilers in 1987. He was followed in this feat in 2009 by Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings.[3] In winning the 1994 Stanley Cup, Keenan managed to avoid becoming the first coach in NHL history to lose Game 7s with two teams (the fate which would befall Babcock in losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins.[3]).

After leaving the Rangers Keenan went on to serve as coach and general manager of the St. Louis Blues (1994–96),[4] and coached the Vancouver Canucks (1997–98), and the Boston Bruins (2000–01). He was named head coach of the Florida Panthers on December 3, 2001, before becoming its General Manager. On September 3, 2006, Keenan resigned his position and was replaced by head coach Jacques Martin.

On April 24, 2007 Keenan would take his next role as Senior Advisor to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association. This role would not last long as he was named head coach of the Calgary Flames on June 14, 2007. Keenan would go on to pass Pat Quinn for 4th on the all time NHL coach win list (648 wins) on February 12, 2009.

Currently, he is fifth all time in National Hockey League wins. Keenan's teams never missed the playoffs until 1998. His tough coaching style and attitude towards his players have earned him the nickname "Iron Mike".

On May 22, 2009, after two consecutive first round playoff losses, Keenan was fired as Head Coach of the Calgary Flames, he had one year left on his contract.[5] He recorded his 600th win as an NHL coach with the Flames.[6]

On Thursday, October 1, 2009, MSG Network announced Keenan would join the Rangers MSG Network broadcast team of Sam Rosen, Joe Micheletti, Al Trautwig, John Giannone, Dave Maloney, and Ron Duguay as a regular guest analyst for pre-game, intermission, and post-game reports on the network. He's also an analyst on MSG Hockey Night Live with Trautwig, Duguay, Maloney, Ken Daneyko, and Butch Goring.


Despite Keenan's coaching record, his inability to maintain working relationships with players and team organizations has resulted in a lack of long term coaching positions.[7] His coaching resume includes abrupt terminations or resignations from coaching or general manager positions, sometimes at bafflingly inopportune, or peak, moments of his career.

Keenan was dismissed from the Philadelphia Flyers a year after leading them to the 1987 Stanley Cup Finals. After taking the Chicago Blackhawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, Keenan was forced to focus solely on his GM duties when longtime Blackhawk player and assistant coach, Darryl Sutter, was being courted by other teams to be their head coach. Owner Bill Wirtz did not want to lose Sutter, especially since Keenan had stated, in July, 1992, that he wished to focus solely on his duties as general manager after the 92–93 season. Keenan lost a power struggle with Senior V.P. Bob Pulford after the 1992–93 season, resigned his position, and was soon hired by the New York Rangers. Keenan managed to coach the Rangers to the Stanley Cup in his first and only year as head coach, but was unable to coexist long enough with general manager Neil Smith and resigned weeks later, citing a violation of his contract by the Rangers.[8]

Stops in St. Louis and Vancouver saw conflict with team stars; both Brett Hull[4] and Trevor Linden[9] had major personality conflicts with Keenan. In one instance while the Blues were playing the Buffalo Sabres at The Aud, Dale Hawerchuk's dying grandmother, who lived in nearby Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, came to see him play one last time while she was alive. Keenan deliberately benched Hawerchuk for the game, and an unhappy captain Brett Hull screamed at Keenan, who then responded by stripping Hull's captaincy.

In September 2006, Keenan again attracted headlines when he abruptly resigned as general manager of the Florida Panthers. Keenan's resignation came shortly after he dealt Florida Panthers' franchise goaltender Roberto Luongo along with defenceman Lukas Krajicek and Florida's 2006 sixth-round draft pick (Sergei Shirokov) to the Vancouver Canucks for struggling forward Todd Bertuzzi, goaltender Alex Auld, and defenceman Bryan Allen. It was speculated that Keenan had lost a power struggle with head coach and longtime friend, Jacques Martin, over personnel decisions. Martin succeeded him as general manager upon his resignation.

Keenan was also notorious for pulling or switching his goaltenders, sometimes multiple times in a period. In game 4 of the first round of the 1987 playoffs, Keenan pulled goaltenders, Ron Hextall and Glenn Resch, a total of five times in a single game (the fifth time to gain a man-advantage in the last minute of play).

Goaltender Roberto Luongo said the following regarding Keenan's penchant for pulling his goaltenders while a member of the Florida Panthers in 2002:

"Not a big deal. [Keenan] does it so much that we expect it. If he's your coach and you're an NHL goalie on the bench, you have to be ready, just in case."[10]

KHL career

On May 13, 2013 Keenan signed a contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of KHL.[11] On April 30, 2014 Keenan's Metallurg team won the KHL championship with a game seven victory over HC Lev Praha. In winning the team's first Gagarin Cup, Keenan became both the first North American coach to win a KHL championship and the first coach to win both the Gagarin Cup and the Stanley Cup.[12] On October 17, 2015, Keenan was fired by Magnitogorsk.

On March 16, 2017, Keenan was announced as the new head coach of HC Kunlun Red Star, the KHL's first Chinese based team.[13] After a disappointing start to the 2017-18 season, Keenan was fired by Kunlun Red Star on December 3, 2017.[14]

Personal life and family

Derek Keenan, the head coach and general manager of the Saskatchewan Rush of the National Lacrosse League, is Keenan's third cousin. Derek's wife, Wendy, is a sister of Hockey Hall of Famer, Joe Nieuwendyk.

In 2018, Keenan went public with being diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he is currently undergoing treatment.[15]

Career record

Regular season points (Pts) contained in brackets () denote the team's standing after the full season, not the number of points accrued at the time Keenan was fired.

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTOTLPtsFinishWLWin %Result
PHI1984–85 80532071131st in Patrick Division127.632Runner-up
PHI1985–86 80532341101st in Patrick Division23.400Division semi-finalist
PHI1986–87 80462681001st in Patrick Division1511.577Runner up
PHI1987–88 8038339852nd in Patrick Division34.429Division semi-finalist
PHI Total320190102284083225.5614 playoff appearances
CHI1988–89 80274112664th in Norris Division97.563Conference finalist
CHI1989–90 8041336881st in Norris Division1010.500Conference finalist
CHI1990–91 80492381061st in Norris Division24.333Division semi-finalist
CHI1991–92 80362915872nd in Norris Division126.667Runner up
CHI Total320153126413473327.5504 playoff appearances
NYR1993–94 84522481121st in Atlantic167.696Won Stanley Cup
NYR Total8452248112167.6961 playoff appearance
1 Stanley Cup Championship
STL1994–95 4829155632nd in Central34.429Conference quarter-finalist
STL1995–96 82323416804th in Central76.538Conference semi-finalist
STL1996–97 3315171(83)4th in Central(Fired)
STL Total1637566221721010.5002 playoff appearances
VAN1997–98 63213012(64)7th in PacificMissed playoffs
VAN1998–99 4515246(58)4th in Northwest(Fired)
VAN Total10836541890
BOS2000–01 74332678814th in NortheastMissed Playoffs
BOS Total74332678(88)
FLA2001–02 56162983(60)4th in SoutheastMissed playoffs
FLA2002–03 822436139704th in SoutheastMissed playoffs
FLA2003–04 155820(75)4th in Southeast(Resigned)
FLA Total15345732312125
CGY2007–08 82423010943rd in Northwest34.429Conference quarter-finalist
CGY2008–09 8246306982nd in Northwest24.333Conference quarter-finalist
CGY Total16488601619258.3852 playoff appearances
MMG2013–14 5435118[16]1081st in Kharlamov165.762Won Gagarin Cup
MMG Total5435118108165.7621 playoff appearance
1 Gagarin Cup Championship
Career Total1440707542147441,53711282.577


  1. "Keenan first to win Stanley Cup, KHL title".
  2. LeBrun, Pierre (November 8, 2010). "Jim Devellano's vision created a dynasty". ESPN.com.
  3. Podell, Ira (June 13, 2009). "Penguin power: Pittsburgh motors away from Detroit with the silver Cup". Salt Lake Deseret News. Associated Press. p. D1. The Penguins...beat the defending champion Detroit Red Wings 2-1...in Game 7 and win the Stanley Cup for the third time...In 2003...the last series in which the home team won all seven games...the Mighty Ducks team that lost then was coached by current Red Wings bench boss Mike Babcock.
  4. Gordon, Jeff (2008-12-17). "The truth about Mike Keenan". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  5. Buffery, Steve (2010-01-27). "Keenan hopes for NHL return". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  6. Brehm, Mike (2007-12-20). "The passion has returned for Calgary coach Mike Keenan". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  7. Proteau, Adam (May 30, 2013). "John Tortorella not manager enough to be NHL coach". The Hockey News. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  8. Sandomir, Richard (July 28, 1994). "HOCKEY; Keenan's Lawyer Points Finger at Smith". The New York Times.
  9. Hanley, Brian (January 11, 1998). "Keenan staging his usual theatrics in Vancouver run". Chicago Sun-Times.
  10. Associated Press (January 12, 2002). "Senators 4, Panthers 2".
  11. Dospekhov, Alexei. "Metallurg got Iron Mike" (in Russian). kommersant.ru.
  12. "Mike Keenan guides Metallurg Magnitogorsk to Game 7 Gagarin Cup win and record-setting KHL championship". The Hockey News. 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  13. "Mike Keenan hired by Chinese KHL team Kunlan Red Star". Sportsnet.ca. 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  14. "Mike Keenan fired by KHL's Kunlun Red Star". espn.com. 2017-12-03. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  15. Dreger, Darren (September 25, 2018). "Keenan battling prostate cancer". TSN.
  16. including overtime and shootout losses
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