The Calgary Flames announced the firing of head coach Mike Keenan on Friday afternoon.
“Our team did not meet expectations,” Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter said in a press release. ”Following detailed evaluation over the past three weeks, and taking into consideration all factors affecting our season ending result, we believe this is a necessary change required to allow our team to continue toward our objective of winning the Stanley Cup.”
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The move itselt isn’t a surprise, but is somewhat surprising that the move took this long. Generally, coaches are fired fairly soon after their team’s season has ended. Regardless, Keenan was expected to get the gate. Was the team’s lack of playoff success his fault? I’m not sure. Last season, the Flames ran into a better San Jose squad in the playoffs, but took them to a deciding game seven. Many were unhappy with Keenan’s goaltending management in that final game, but the Flames did lose to the better team. This season, was a bit different. The Flames made big moves at the deadline and had high expectations. Additionally, they matched up against an inexperienced group from Chicago. Obviously defensive injuries played a factor in the team’s first round loss, but I think the games five and six performances probably didn’t sit well in Darryl Sutter’s stomach.
To me, the Flames’ biggest problem during the Keenan area was the inability to play a defensive style and stick to defensive responsibilities. In today’s game, if you can’t play a good defensive game, you really don’t have a chance.
Who’s next? Some will call for Darryl Sutter to return behind the bench, others will point to Brent Sutter rumors and others will want some new coaching blood. I guess time will tell, but I just can’t see Darryl Sutter bringing in a young coach with this veteran bunch.