Volume 94, Issue 37
Friday, November 3, 2000
Tea party emerging
Boston may not be known as a mining town, but traces of iron have recently been discovered and will continue to be found Iron Mike that is.
That's right, the bench boss who earned his nickname for his paint peeling dressing room rants and his musical goaltender acts has taken his show to Beantown. Die hard Bruin fans will be hoping Mike Keenan can deliver the goods as departing chief Pat Burns apparently could not.
Can Keenan turn this franchise back into the model of consistency it epitomized over three decades, before missing the play-offs in 1997? History suggests he just might.
Keenan is taking over the sixth team of his career. Of the five teams he previously coached four became championship caliber clubs. His first team, Philadelphia, went to the Stanley Cup finals. The only thing that prevented the Flyers from winning it all, was the offensive juggernaut known as the Edmonton Oilers, who defeated Philly on both occasions, the second took seven games.
Then it was off to the Windy City where Keenan guided the Chicago Blackhawks to a first overall finish in 1991 and a Stanley Cup final in 1992. Again he ran into a dynasty, as the Pittsburgh Penguins led by Mario Lemieux, swept the Hawks out of the final enroute to their second straight cup.
In 1994 Keenan and Mark Messier hooked up to end 54 years of misery for New York Ranger fans by delivering the first cup for the blue shirts since 1940. This victory solidified both Messier's and Keenan's spot in hockey lore. After a messy divorce with the Rangers, Keenan moved West to St. Louis. You may think the party ended here, but a closer look suggests otherwise.
Keenan may not have been popular, but he laid the foundation for a team that now is on the brink of a championship. He outraged St. Louis fans by trading the highly popular Brendan Shanahan for an young, unproven defenseman who was rumoured to be a trouble maker. That defenseman of course is current league Most Valuable Player, Chris Pronger and any general manager interested in keeping his job would make that trade without hesitation now. The only place Keenan failed to make hay, was in Vancouver and let's face it it rains a lot on the West Coast.
The foundation is there for Boston to have a winner, once they realize the Bruins boast Jason Allison, Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov. All could have long, fruitful careers in the National Hockey League.
Copyright © The Gazette 2000