Mike Keenan wanted to stay in coaching when he was fired by the Calgary Flames in March 2009. Four years later, he was given the opportunity to return behind the bench half a world away with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. His first year in Russia went as perfect as he could have imagined.
On Wednesday, Keenan and Metallurg defeated Lev Praha 7-4 in Game 7 to claim their first KHL Gagarin Cup title.
In the process, Keenan became the first North American coach to win a Gagarin Cup and Stanley Cup, 20 years after he led the New York Rangers to their first championship in 54 years. He's now won championships named after a lord and a cosmonaut.
Keenan inked a two-year deal with Metallurg last May, but how much of an effect will this title have on a potential future return to the NHL? There are currently three openings and likely a few more before the playoffs end. Sports book Bovada had 10/1 odds on "Iron Mike" taking over the Washington Capitals' gig.
Hey, Florida has an opening again...
Bottom line, Keenan loves to coach. He'll stay in the game as long as he can.
As he told the New York Times earlier this month, Keenan didn't get back in the coaching game for the championships, though they certainly are nice.
“It’s not about being the first North American or Canadian to win the Gagarin Cup," he said.
"It’s about learning, teaching others and being involved with a group that wants to win, and that’s the experience that has always been foremost in my mind and driven me as a coach.”
- - - - - - -