When he was introduced as the 15th head coach in Calgary Flames history in June 2007, Mike Keenan reminded fans that winning the Stanley Cup is not an easy task, that you "have to find, educate, teach, and lead the people that want to be led."
He also said he would "love to stay here and end my career here."
Well, Iron Mike mustered an 88-60-16 record over two regular seasons in Calgary before finding himself in familiar territory on May 22 of this year: the NHL unemployment line.
The fiery coach boasts a strong resume that includes 672 victories in 20 seasons, a Stanley Cup championship in 1994 with the New York Rangers and coach of the year honour in 1985 with Philadelphia.
'There are too many good coaches out there ... currently out of work who will command attention.' — HNIC's Scott Oake on recycled NHL coaches
Keenan also has also guided five other NHL clubs: Chicago, St. Louis, Vancouver, Boston and Florida. But at age 59, are eight teams enough in the eyes of the 30 league general managers?
Perhaps. But for every Bruce Boudreau, Dan Bylsma or Cory Clouston, there always seems to be a more seasoned Pat Quinn, Jacques Lemaire or Marc Crawford to fill the void.
With that in mind, CBCSports.ca asked retired NHL player Jeremy Roenick, Hockey Night in Canada's Scott Oake, NHL agent Kent Hughes and Canadian women's hockey team player Jennifer Botterill what recycled coach they felt would return to an NHL bench this season.
2009-10 NHL predictions (the lighter side)
|Sept. 23||This season's quote machine|
|Sept. 24||Best-dressed NHL player|
|Sept. 25||NHL player who should retire|
|Sept. 28||Who will Alex Ovechkin target in a war of words?|
|TODAY||Which recycled coach will return to the NHL?|
And the survey says…
Roenick: As if New Jersey couldn't be any more of a boring team to watch play, now they've got [the defensive-minded Jacques] Lemaire as coach. He's the guy that actually ruined the game in the first place by instituting the trap [system] that I think brought the game down two or three levels.
I think [Craig] Hartsburg's had his two or three opportunities. I'd love to see Savvy [Denis Savard] get another opportunity. I think he did a great job with Chicago. I would love to see Iron Mike [Keenan] get another job. I think he's one of the greatest coaches of all time. He could always make a team better.
Oake: I think the leading candidates would be Craig MacTavish and Guy Carbonneau. What was last year in vogue seems to be going to the AHL and giving [those coaches] their first shot in the NHL. You certainly cannot argue that that didn't pay huge dividends in Pittsburgh with [Dan] Bylsma [whose team won the Stanley Cup last season].[But]
there are too many good coaches out there who have coached in the NHL currently out of work who will command attention.
Mike Keenan, for a team that underachieves, was always an enticing proposition for a general manager or an owner. That's clearly why [Flames GM] Darryl Sutter hired him in Calgary and he lasted two years there. But I don't think that Mike expects to coach again. When he got the Calgary job, he probably thought that that opportunity wasn't going to present itself but it did.
Hughes: I think [former Atlanta Thrashers coach] Bob Hartley or Guy Carbonneau. I say Carbonneau because he did have success with Montreal. The year before last, the Canadiens were first overall [in the Eastern Conference].
It's gotta be guys that have had meaningful success with a club. Bob Hartley did in Colorado and he got Atlanta in the playoffs [in 2007], and Atlanta hasn't had any success, period.
I'd be surprised if Mike Keenan's ever back in the game. He's just done it too many times. And of recent note, every new tenure has been marginally successful, so he's far removed from the teams he coached very successfully.
Botterill: Mike Keenan. He can be harsh and certainly has a different approach, but he is very knowledgeable about the game and has been successful.