McKenzie: Keenan pays the price for playoff failure
5/23/2009 12:10:22 AM
If Mike Keenan had been fired 7-10 days after the Calgary Flames were knocked out of the playoffs, no one would have batted an eyelash. Everyone would have said it was the most expected result you could imagine because it was yet another first-round defeat for the Flames.
Keenan was brought in ostensibly to get the Flames past the first round, to get them deep in the playoffs. When that didn't happen and general manager Darryl Sutter basically announced the Flames were coming back with the same core of players next year, there had to be change somewhere and in this case, the change is behind the bench.
There will be lots of speculation on the next head coach and people will wonder if Sutter will be behind the bench. It's tough to have a general manager and head coach role in today's NHL but that's always a possibility.
What about Brent Sutter? That's going to be the name everyone is going to be talking about. He's got a year left on his contract with the Devils but he's back home in Red Deer right now, contemplating his future and deciding whether he wants to go back to New Jersey or stay in Red Deer.
A lot of people are going to put 2+2 together and say this is perfect. Darryl hires his brother, who doesn't have to worry about being away from his family and his junior hockey team. But that's probably premature because Brent could be back in New Jersey and if he's not, it's no guarantee he'll even coach in the NHL next season.
Calgary Hitmen head coach Dave Lowry, who was recently named the head coach of Canada's Under-18 team, is another name that will probably get thrown in the hopper because he's got some history with Darryl Sutter that goes back to San Jose.