Mike Keenan

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Mike Keenan
Keenan in 2008
Born (1949-10-21) October 21, 1949 (age 74)
Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada
Coached for Philadelphia Flyers
Chicago Blackhawks
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
Vancouver Canucks
Boston Bruins
Florida Panthers
Calgary Flames
Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Kunlun Red Star
Coaching career 1984–2017

Michael Edward Keenan (born October 21, 1949) is a Canadian professional hockey coach currently serving as head coach of the Italian men's national ice hockey team.[1] Previously, he served as head coach and/or general manager with several NHL teams between 1984 and 2009. He currently ranks fifth in playoff wins with 96. He is noted for his early career success in coaching Team Canada to win the 1987 Canada Cup round-robin tournament in a thrilling best-of-three series finale against Viktor Tikhonov's Red Army team.[2] He is one of three coaches to coach in a playoff Game 7 ten times, for which he won five times.[3] Keenan was the third person to lead three different teams (Philadelphia, Chicago, New York) to the Stanley Cup Finals; only one coach has accomplished the feat since Keenan.[4][5]

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, and he became the first head coach to have won championships in both the NHL and KHL, later to be joined by Bob Hartley after his win in 2020–21.[6]

Currently, he is 15th all time in National Hockey League wins as one of 23 head coaches with 600 wins in NHL history. In each of his first eleven seasons, Keenan led his team to the Stanley Cup playoffs; in the subsequent nine seasons that followed, his teams only made it to the playoffs twice. His tough coaching style and attitude towards his players have earned him the nickname "Iron Mike".

Coaching career[edit]

Minor hockey[edit]

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.


Keenan landed his first high-profile job with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984.[7] In 1993, he became the New York Rangers head coach and led the team 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.[8]

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.[9] 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[9]).

After leaving the Rangers, Keenan went on to serve as coach and general manager of the St. Louis Blues (1994–96),[10] 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.

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.[11] He recorded his 600th win as an NHL coach with the Flames.[12]

As commentator[edit]

On October 1, 2009, MSG Network announced that 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.


On May 13, 2013, Keenan signed a contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of KHL.[13] 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.[14] 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.[15] After a disappointing start to the 2017–2018 season, Keenan was fired by Kunlun Red Star on December 3, 2017.[16]


On October 18, 2022, the Italian Ice Sports Federation named Keenan as the head coach of the Italian men's national ice hockey team.[1]

Relationship with NHL personnel and players[edit]

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.[17] His coaching resume includes abrupt terminations or resignations from coaching or general manager positions, sometimes at bafflingly inopportune, or peak, moments of his career.

He was fired 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.[18] [19][20][21]

Stops in St. Louis and Vancouver saw conflict with team stars; both Brett Hull[10] and Trevor Linden[22] 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.

Keenan was even willing to publicly criticize Wayne Gretzky after he acquired the superstar in an early 1996 trade with the Los Angeles Kings. Keenan had previously coached Gretzky in Canada Cup play, and his refusal to moderate his attitude and style even when coaching a team full of stars meant his relationship with the league's all-time leading scorer was never particularly warm. Gretzky refused to consider re-signing with St. Louis during the 1996 off-season and opted instead to finish his playing career with Keenan's former team, the Rangers.

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.

He was also notorious for pulling or switching his goaltenders, sometimes multiple times in a period. Before the 1987 playoffs, he used Ron Hextall as the regular starting goalie. However, he pulled goaltenders Hextall and Chico Resch a total of five times in a single game (the fifth time to gain a man-advantage in the last minute of play) in game 4 of the first round of the 1987 playoffs. Three years later, he pulled goaltender Greg Millen in favor of Ed Belfour a total of four times in 8 games. That system was discontinued when he became the New York Rangers head coach and used Mike Richter as the regular starting goalie.

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."[23]

Personal life and family[edit]

Keenan has a wife and a daughter.[2]

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 was then undergoing treatment.[24]

Career record[edit]

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.


Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish W L Win % Result
PHI 1984–85 80 53 20 7 113 1st in Patrick 12 7 .632 Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (EDM)
PHI 1985–86 80 53 23 4 110 1st in Patrick 2 3 .400 Lost in Division semifinals (NYR)
PHI 1986–87 80 46 26 8 100 1st in Patrick 15 11 .577 Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (EDM)
PHI 1987–88 80 38 33 9 85 2nd in Patrick 3 4 .429 Lost in Division semifinals (WSH)
PHI Total 320 190 102 28 408 32 25 .561 4 playoff appearances
CHI 1988–89 80 27 41 12 66 4th in Norris 9 7 .563 Lost in Conference finals (CGY)
CHI 1989–90 80 41 33 6 88 1st in Norris 10 10 .500 Lost in Conference finals (EDM)
CHI 1990–91 80 49 23 8 106 1st in Norris 2 4 .333 Lost in Division semifinals (MIN)
CHI 1991–92 80 36 29 15 87 2nd in Norris 12 6 .667 Lost in Stanley Cup Finals (PIT)
CHI Total 320 153 126 41 347 33 27 .550 4 playoff appearances
NYR 1993–94 84 52 24 8 112 1st in Atlantic 16 7 .696 Won Stanley Cup (VAN)
NYR Total 84 52 24 8 112 16 7 .696 1 playoff appearance
1 Stanley Cup title
STL 1994–95 48 28 15 5 61 2nd in Central 3 4 .429 Lost in Conference quarterfinals (VAN)
STL 1995–96 82 32 34 16 80 4th in Central 7 6 .538 Lost in Conference semifinals (DET)
STL 1996–97 33 15 17 1 (83) 4th in Central (Fired)
STL Total 163 75 66 22 172 10 10 .500 2 playoff appearances
VAN 1997–98 63 21 30 12 (64) 7th in Pacific Missed playoffs
VAN 1998–99 45 15 24 6 (58) 4th in Northwest (Fired)
VAN Total 108 36 54 18 90
BOS 2000–01 74 33 26 7 8 (88) 4th in Northeast Missed playoffs
BOS Total 74 33 26 7 8 81
FLA 2001–02 56 16 29 8 3 (60) 4th in Southeast Missed playoffs
FLA 2002–03 82 24 36 13 9 70 4th in Southeast Missed playoffs
FLA 2003–04 15 5 8 2 0 (75) 4th in Southeast (Resigned)
FLA Total 153 45 73 23 12 125
CGY 2007–08 82 42 30 10 94 3rd in Northwest 3 4 .429 Lost in Conference quarterfinals (SJS)
CGY 2008–09 82 46 30 6 98 2nd in Northwest 2 4 .333 Lost in Conference quarterfinals (CHI)
CGY Total 164 88 60 16 192 5 8 .385 2 playoff appearances
Career Total 1386 672 531 147 36 1,527 96 77 .555


  1. ^ a b "Ex-NHL coach Mike Keenan, 72, guiding Italian men's national squad".
  2. ^ a b "Mario, Mike and the Great Gretzky – Feature, Documentary". Encore +. YouTube. 12 July 2020.
  3. ^ @PR_NHL (May 14, 2023). "Peter DeBoer (6-0) is the only head coach in #StanleyCup Playoffs history to win each of his first 5+ career Game 7s" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ https://www.cbc.ca/sports-content/hockey/opinion/2014/06/alain-vigneault-makes-history-with-second-trip-to-stanley-cup-final.html
  5. ^ https://www.latimes.com/sports/ducks/la-sp-ducks-report-20170522-story.html
  6. ^ "Keenan first to win Stanley Cup, KHL title". CBC.ca. October 18, 2022.
  7. ^ "Keenan named Flyers' new head coach - UPI Archives". UPI. Retrieved 2023-08-21.
  8. ^ LeBrun, Pierre (November 8, 2010). "Jim Devellano's vision created a dynasty". ESPN.com.
  9. ^ a b Podell, Ira (June 13, 2009). "Penguin power: Pittsburgh motors away from Detroit with the silver Cup". Deseret News. Associated Press. p. D1. Retrieved February 23, 2024. 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.
  10. ^ a b Gordon, Jeff (2008-12-17). "The truth about Mike Keenan". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved 2010-02-02.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ Buffery, Steve (2010-01-27). "Keenan hopes for NHL return". Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  12. ^ Brehm, Mike (2007-12-20). "The passion has returned for Calgary coach Mike Keenan". USA Today. Retrieved 2010-02-02.
  13. ^ Dospekhov, Alexei (14 May 2013). "Metallurg got Iron Mike" (in Russian). kommersant.ru.
  14. ^ "Mike Keenan guides Metallurg Magnitogorsk to Game 7 Gagarin Cup win and record-setting KHL championship". The Hockey News. 2014-04-30. Archived from the original on 2014-05-03. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  15. ^ "Mike Keenan hired by Chinese KHL team Kunlan Red Star". Sportsnet.ca. 2017-03-16. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
  16. ^ "Mike Keenan fired by KHL's Kunlun Red Star". espn.com. 2017-12-03. Retrieved 12 June 2018.
  17. ^ Proteau, Adam (May 30, 2013). "John Tortorella not manager enough to be NHL coach". The Hockey News. Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  18. ^ Sandomir, Richard (July 28, 1994). "HOCKEY; Keenan's Lawyer Points Finger at Smith". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Alexander, Rachel (2024-01-05). "KEENAN JOINS BLUES, BUT PAYS PRICE". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  20. ^ Sandomir, Richard (July 25, 1994). "HOCKEY; Rangers Acquire Nedved In the Keenan Dispute". New York Times. Retrieved February 11, 2024.
  21. ^ Archives, L. A. Times (1994-07-25). "Keenan Gets $100,000 Fine, 60-Day Ban; Nedved a Ranger". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  22. ^ Hanley, Brian (January 11, 1998). "Keenan staging his usual theatrics in Vancouver run". Chicago Sun-Times.
  23. ^ Associated Press (January 12, 2002). "Senators 4, Panthers 2".
  24. ^ Dreger, Darren (September 25, 2018). "Keenan battling prostate cancer". TSN.

External links[edit]