After yet another first-round playoff exist, the Calgary Flames have fired Mike Keenan. Apparently the Flames organization didn’t buy the injuries excuse and showed the hard-nosed coach the door.
“Our team did not meet expectations,” general manager Darryl Sutter said in a statement issued late Friday afternoon. “We believe this is a necessary change required to allow our team to continue toward our objective of winning the Stanley Cup.”
The move was actually a surprise to many insiders, with Keenan fully expected to remain in Calgary through the final year in his contract. The Flames obviously thought otherwise and Iron Mike was given the heave-ho after the squad lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games. This latest exist piled more disappointment on a Flames franchise that had so much potential after heading to the Finals in 2004 and once being thought of as true contenders year after year.
The status of associate coach Jim Playfair, who coached the team the season before Keenan’s arrival, assistants Rich Preston and Rob Cookson and goalie coach David Marcoux remains under review. Keenan’s contract was the only one out of the entire coaching staff’s with any time left, so it may not be surprising to see a total overhaul.
Calgary will need to change how it does things from the top right on down to the locker room. They attempted to spend their way to a team this year, reaching up and touching the salary cap with the hiring of players like Ollie Jokinen. They also relied far too heavily on Miikka Kiprusoff, forcing the goalie to play 76 games out of the season. This hampered the development of other goalies, too.
In the end, it’s back to the drawing board for Darryl Sutter and his Flames. Maybe he’ll have to step behind the bench again himself in order to get the ball rolling.
Posted by Jordan Richardson.