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The Mike Keenan legend

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Old
12-07-2013, 10:13 AM
  #51
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Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
Please allow me to bring in a wider scope of what was occurring in society during the time Keenan coached in the NHL. To be clear, he was successful up to the mid 90's, and its arguable that the 1994 Rangers would have won the Cup anyway without Keenan behind the bench. They had a prime Messier, Leetch and great goaltending. Around the mid to late 80's the secrets of sexual abuse began to surface as many more victims began to come forward. As society's eyes began to open to what had been occurring for years unbeknownst to many, a boat load of other issues regarding the treatment of human beings surfaced. These included domestic abuse, bullying, etc... and the power dynamics inherent to these tactics. A generation of teenagers, including hockey players and all participants in sports, in the late 80's were suddenly aware of the contrast between abuse and humane treatment of a person. Some of these teens eventually graduated to the NHL, played semi-pro or were involved in hockey at many other levels. Coaches like Keenan and others were suddenly questioned about their age old tactics and treatment of players. Many players were unwilling to put up with this treatment. Some took harsher stands to put a stop to it (i.e. Sheldon Kennedy). In other words, Keenan quickly became seen as a tyrant rather than a superior 'motivator'. I'll be very clear here, I am not saying Keenan was involved in the sexual abuse of any of his players. That is not the point of this discourse. I am briefly summarizing a revolution that occurred at a societal level that reached into the arenas of sport that allowed many to question what was right and what was wrong. I do believe that, as others have indicated in previous posts, that Keenan's effectiveness as a coach dwindled drastically after the early 90's and I believe there is a direct correlation to what I have just stated.
pffft...?

keenan was one of the greatest "owner's coaches" in the history of the game. it's as simple as that. When the inmates were running the asylum you brought keenan in and allowed him to blow people out at his discretion. He answered only to the owners.

Once the owner didn't want to spend money eating contracts it was time for keenan to go. hopefully at that point you've found yourself a self motivated captiain that can keep the team working hard in a country club atmosphere.

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12-07-2013, 11:49 PM
  #52
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Lombardi rode players hard, yelled at them for mistakes, but he never demeaned them as players or as human beings. I think Keenan crossed that line frequently.
No question Keenan did. To shift back to football, Bill Parcells was notorious for doing the same, but he said that his mouth just moved faster than his mind. If someone made a dumb play in practice, he would think "that was a dumb play" but would actually say "you're dumb". He knew what he meant, and his players knew what he meant, but he still had a shorter shelf life than a coach of his caliber would be expected to have.

Lombardi was notorious for demeaning his players as players, although what you said about not demeaning them as people is true. Film time was legendary for walking in 6' tall and exiting on eye level with a caterpillar. One of my favorite Lombardi stories:

The 1962 Packers have a good claim to the title of best NFL team in history; I argue that they are the best ever. Going into the 1963 season, they played the College All-Stars in August. The game was to be played, and then the college players would join the teams that had drafted and signed them. Green Bay was without Hornung (suspended), Taylor (injured), and Nitschke (unavailable). The college team was one of the greatest ever assembled. On that squad was Packers' second-round pick Dave Robinson. In the All-Stars 20-17 win, Robinson made a tremendous play late against Gary Knafelc on a 3rd-and-short, forcing a Packers punt.

A few days later, Robinson joined the Packers in training camp, and everyone swore Lombardi was even more agitated than normal. Finally, time for team film study came, and Lombardi started the reel on the All-Star game. Every play was stopped and replayed, with Lombardi's full-volume commentary blasting whoever the unlucky sap was who hadn't performed to maximum level.

Finally, it got to that crucial play Robinson had made. He sat up a little straighter, expecting some type of praise. The play ran, then Lombardi paused the film and looked at Gary Knafelc. "KNAFELC! Look at this! You're supposed to be so damned good, and you just got blown up by some college player who probably won't make whatever team was dumb enough to draft him!"

Two birds, one stone.

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12-22-2013, 02:53 AM
  #53
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I know Bob Errey and Aaron Ward hated Bowman in Detroit. Ward, once, on TSN said something to the effect of, "Ask Slava Kozlov what he thinks of Bowman," although I've never seen any stories about Kozlov/Bowman.

Found this in a 1997 article: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/09/sp...ding-ring.html



And:



From what I remember, Bowman's reputation in Detroit mostly had to do with how hard he worked them and how demanding he was. I seem to recall Dave Lewis being the "good cop," and he had most of the interaction with the players. Or so it was reported at the time.

These days Bowman sometimes watches Tampa Bay Lightning games with Steve Yzerman, and Yzerman still has nothing but praise for him. I guess 3 Stanley Cups will buy you that. ...And that's also probably the difference between Bowman and Keenan.
Remember in Pittsburgh before Bowman went back into coaching they had "Badger" Bob Johnson as the head coach and he wasa compete 180 from the style of Bowman. So the players had grown used to (and loved) Johnson and now they had Bowman as the coach. I can see why there was a mini revolt.

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12-22-2013, 02:57 AM
  #54
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Originally Posted by Mayor Bee View Post
No question Keenan did. To shift back to football, Bill Parcells was notorious for doing the same, but he said that his mouth just moved faster than his mind. If someone made a dumb play in practice, he would think "that was a dumb play" but would actually say "you're dumb". He knew what he meant, and his players knew what he meant, but he still had a shorter shelf life than a coach of his caliber would be expected to have.

Lombardi was notorious for demeaning his players as players, although what you said about not demeaning them as people is true. Film time was legendary for walking in 6' tall and exiting on eye level with a caterpillar. One of my favorite Lombardi stories:

The 1962 Packers have a good claim to the title of best NFL team in history; I argue that they are the best ever. Going into the 1963 season, they played the College All-Stars in August. The game was to be played, and then the college players would join the teams that had drafted and signed them. Green Bay was without Hornung (suspended), Taylor (injured), and Nitschke (unavailable). The college team was one of the greatest ever assembled. On that squad was Packers' second-round pick Dave Robinson. In the All-Stars 20-17 win, Robinson made a tremendous play late against Gary Knafelc on a 3rd-and-short, forcing a Packers punt.

A few days later, Robinson joined the Packers in training camp, and everyone swore Lombardi was even more agitated than normal. Finally, time for team film study came, and Lombardi started the reel on the All-Star game. Every play was stopped and replayed, with Lombardi's full-volume commentary blasting whoever the unlucky sap was who hadn't performed to maximum level.

Finally, it got to that crucial play Robinson had made. He sat up a little straighter, expecting some type of praise. The play ran, then Lombardi paused the film and looked at Gary Knafelc. "KNAFELC! Look at this! You're supposed to be so damned good, and you just got blown up by some college player who probably won't make whatever team was dumb enough to draft him!"

Two birds, one stone.
Lombardi also knew which players could take his yelling and which players he needed to be a little more gentle with. His QB's were never yelled at that much while Hornung was a freuent target as he could take it. That was part of the genius of Lombardi. He always knew WHO could take it and more imprtanly WHEN to yell and not to yell. The misconception is that he was hard all of the time. Players frequently commented he was tougher on them after a win than a loss. He was known to do the oppisiote ofwhat was expected and that was another part of his genius.

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12-22-2013, 09:29 AM
  #55
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Coaches like Lombardi and Bowman may have been regarded as tyrants as well, but the difference is that most of those players that didn't like them would still, perhaps begrudgingly, tell you they respected them...

It doesn't seem like Keenan has the respect of most of the guys he coached.

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06-21-2014, 12:39 AM
  #56
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While Keenan has been widely criticized as being a coach that lots of players don't enjoy playing for, here are a couple of examples of players that actually did seem happy to play for him. In a 1996 issue of the New York Daily News, Mike Peluso implied that it was easier to play for Mike Keenan than it was for Jacques Lemaire. He said that Lemaire never gave him any kind of encouragement. When he was reunited with Mike Keenan after being traded to St. Louis in 1996 he said that he would receive encouragement from Keenan. In a 1992 issue of the Hartford Courant, Rob Brown expressed happiness about being traded from the Whalers to the Blackhawks. He said that Mike Keenan was approachable while Jim Roberts in Hartford was not. Also, Brown said that it got to point where it wasn't even fun going to the rink with the Whalers, while the game became fun again after he joined the Blackhawks.

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06-21-2014, 03:13 AM
  #57
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As a junior coach, Keenan apparently wasn't that noteworthy of a tyrant. Once he came to the NHL, he decided to emulate the aspect of Scottie Bowman that had Steve Shutt say something like "you hated him 364 days of the year, and on the 365th day, you won the Cup." Bowman changed with the times, though, and Keenan really didn't.
Keenan didn't have that tyrant rep in Calgary, he wasn't soft, but he wasn't Iron Mike either.

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06-21-2014, 05:26 AM
  #58
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Guys like Olli Jokinen got both praise and the other stuff (commonly thrown by monkeys) from Keenan and probably wouldn't have an NHL career without him.

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06-21-2014, 08:08 PM
  #59
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^^^ True enough LBD however more so than even that, Keenan was forever getting into it with not only players but more critically with General Managers, Executives & even owners who employed him.
That's the big thing. Regardless of the debate about his coaching abilities, he was a terrible GM.

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06-21-2014, 11:48 PM
  #60
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Then look at things globally. In 1989 the Wall came down. 1991 USSR revolution and recently the people of Egypt no longer wanting to accept the rules of a dictatorship. Civil war in Syria, etc...People in all walks of life are saying enough with tyrants.
So, are you saying in the early 1940s people were happy with tyrants? You know, when the Allies lost tens of millions of soldiers/citizens in trying to defeat them?

No one who is oppressed (itself obviously a term hard to define) is happy. This goes for Egyptian slaves in 2000 BC as much as for today. There isn't some magic moment in history when everyone suddenly decides to rise-up against oppression. There are practical and material situations -- occurring in different ways, at different speeds, and for different reasons -- that create circumstances that allow people to challenge oppression.
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In the arena of sports, look at what Branch Rickey did for African- Americans, Latinos; giving them a chance and a voice.
I don't want to take anything away from Branch Rickey, who did a great thing -- but he merely did what everyone else who was white and had power should have been doing all along, and he did it in upper-middle class comfort from the safety of his office. The hero of that story (if such things are important) is Jackie Robinson, who had to deal with vicious hatred, constant death-threats to he and his family, racist mobs, constant heckles and racist/sexual insults to his face while performing in front of thousands, and constant stress and anxiety, all while turning the other cheek.

As Chris Rock memorably put it: "The reality is that white people have gotten less crazy." That's all Branch Rickey really did, is get less crazy. (But he does deserve credit; I'm just saying he's not the hero of the story.)

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06-22-2014, 07:07 PM
  #61
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I'd disagree with that. Keenan had a very short shelf life. His teams succeeded in the first 2-3 years of his term before they would regress and he'd get fired. A great coach has a longer shelf life, adapts to new times and circumstances. Keenan's about as adaptable as a creationist in a science museum.
Pretty much this, he had some good talent to work with, at times in his career but he was a wing nut a throwback to the 70's were bullying as a coaching style was acceptable...as long as you are wining.

The results shouldn't blur the actual process, the process should stand independent and Iron mike was basically an egotistical jerk.

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06-22-2014, 07:08 PM
  #62
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So, are you saying in the early 1940s people were happy with tyrants? You know, when the Allies lost tens of millions of soldiers/citizens in trying to defeat them?
No, but tyrants in a democratic society are challenged less often. Even in our so called democratic society in the 1900's, the governments in the U.S. and Canada were manipulating, intimidating and threatening all while using Communism as the evil alternative. I think its fair to say that whether you have power in a democratic, communist or even Czarist state, church, whathaveyou, it go many routes, two of which are corrupt and/or benevolent.

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06-22-2014, 09:42 PM
  #63
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I don't want to take anything away from Branch Rickey, who did a great thing -- but he merely did what everyone else who was white and had power should have been doing all along, and he did it in upper-middle class comfort from the safety of his office. The hero of that story (if such things are important) is Jackie Robinson, who had to deal with vicious hatred, constant death-threats to he and his family, racist mobs, constant heckles and racist/sexual insults to his face while performing in front of thousands, and constant stress and anxiety, all while turning the other cheek.

As Chris Rock memorably put it: "The reality is that white people have gotten less crazy." That's all Branch Rickey really did, is get less crazy. (But he does deserve credit; I'm just saying he's not the hero of the story.)
Too far. Of the five most important figures in 20th century baseball, two of them sat in that very office: Rickey and Robinson. (The others, by the way, are Judge Landis, Babe Ruth, and Marvin Miller). Miller's an outlier based on time frame. But there's an odd chain with the three earliest. Ruth and Landis butted heads, Landis and Rickey, and Rickey and Robinson.

Robinson is absolutely a hero, and he had a recent history of two major incidents of challenging direct discrimination while in the Army. One got him court martialed (the Fort Hood bus incident), while another nearly did (the Fort Riley PX incident). The court martial charges included disturbing the peace, drunkenness, insubordination, conduct unbecoming an officer, and refusing to obey the orders of a superior officer.

But to dismiss Rickey as simply being an opportunist or as someone who had an epiphany does a grave disservice to him as well. He had spent the previous 45 years of his life fighting against discrimination before Jackie Robinson ever took the field in Brooklyn. A lot had to occur before the color barrier in baseball could be broken and stay broken, including two world wars and a hell of a lot of incidents that revealed the inherent stupidity of racism and discrimination to the general public. if Rickey had gone after someone in 1925, it would have been a disaster. In 1935, it would have been a disaster as well. By 1945, it was a different story.

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06-22-2014, 11:48 PM
  #64
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The results shouldn't blur the actual process, the process should stand independent and Iron mike was basically an egotistical jerk.
Fair enough.

But it still begs the question. Which would you prefer?:

a) A jerk who gets his team to win a Stanley Cup.

b) A nice guy who doesn't.

For the sake of this discussion, I'll exclude c) a jerk who doesn't win and d) a nice guy who wins.

Personally, achieving "just" short term and unsustained results, including by jerks, trumps lesser results eight days a week. Business is results, not beanball. And NHL hockey is business, of course.

Not suggesting you can't have a good coach who is also considered in a more favorable light by Cup-adverse ex-players like Tony Amonte , fans and media (read: those who never accomplished anything with him). But winning popularity contests among those types is ultimately superficial.

Not pimping for Keenan, and no doubt he has mellowed with age, as we all do. And he likely regrets some of his actions, as again, we all do. But the guy need not make any apologies for his accomplishments. Even in the day and age of tee-ball sensibilities.

Just my opinion, of course.

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06-22-2014, 11:51 PM
  #65
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But to dismiss Rickey as simply being an opportunist or as someone who had an epiphany does a grave disservice to him as well. He had spent the previous 45 years of his life fighting against discrimination before Jackie Robinson ever took the field in Brooklyn. A lot had to occur before the color barrier in baseball could be broken and stay broken, including two world wars and a hell of a lot of incidents that revealed the inherent stupidity of racism and discrimination to the general public. if Rickey had gone after someone in 1925, it would have been a disaster. In 1935, it would have been a disaster as well. By 1945, it was a different story.
Fair points. Now, I didn't say that Rickey was an "opportunist". He did something unpopular and that he knew would cause himself grief, so clearly it wasn't a situation where there anything to be gained opportunistically.

I respect what Rickey did enormously. I must admit I was fairly ignorant of his previous efforts in this area, so that's good to know. At the same time, I also think there's a danger of making the benevolent white-man the hero. Rickey deserves his credit, but the hero is Robinson. That's all I'm saying.

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06-23-2014, 12:53 AM
  #66
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Fair enough.

But it still begs the question. Which would you prefer?:

a) A jerk who gets his team to win a Stanley Cup.

b) A nice guy who doesn't.

For the sake of this discussion, I'll exclude c) a jerk who doesn't win and d) a nice guy who wins.
So a false dichotomy then.

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06-23-2014, 07:44 AM
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keenan was one of the greatest "owner's coaches" in the history of the game. it's as simple as that.
Perhaps at the beginning of the relationships, but at the end there was quite a bit of acrimony between the coach and ownership in Philadelphia, Chicago, New York, St. Louis and to a lesser degree, Vancouver.

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Once the owner didn't want to spend money eating contracts it was time for keenan to go.
That was really only the case in St. Louis, the first place where Keenan was truly given free rein. Jeff Gordon in his book presents a very long list of former Blues that were still receiving paychecks from the club after Keenan was fired, players that had been acquired by him.

The players and general manager tired of him in Philadelphia, an attempted power grab after he was induced to give up coaching so that the club could retain Darryl Sutter cost him in Chicago, most are familiar with the circumstances of his leaving New York, Brian Burke's arrival did him in in Vancouver.

Also, and the "Iron Mike" moniker conveniently began to be used while he was in Chicago, lifted from the nickname of Bears' coach Mike Ditka.

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06-23-2014, 12:47 PM
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One thing that makes me roll my eyes about a tyranical coaching style being tough love is that guys like Keenan, Bobby Knight and Josh McDaniels sure as hell didn't see didn't see their equals or superiors so much as having a dissenting opinion as anything acceptable. Much less anyone yelling at them.

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06-23-2014, 10:47 PM
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"Bad Cop" coaches, if brought into the right situation can have some decent success, until their act gets old. There's a wide variation in this success... Bowman on one end and Bill LaForge on the other (with Keenan on the Bowman edge of the ledger).

When Keenan came to the Canucks I had an open mind about it. I thought some of the softer players were going to have a wakeup call and some of the heart and soul guys were going to find a compatible ally. I was surprised as hell that two of the guys who I thought would thrive under Keenan, Trevor Linden and Martin Gelinas, were amongst the first to go. For a while there, the team turned into a total circus, not in the least because, on top of being a "bad cop" coach... Keenan was also a GM killer, constantly lobbying for changes so he could rid himself of guys who he didn't like and wanting to load up with "his guys". And if the GM didn't do it, Keenan would undermine him until he got the green light to run the show.

And also, because we are talking of coaches and coaching styles, I thought I'd add one of my favourite quotes from the very successful baseball manager, Casey Stengel, who was neither a tyrant nor universally loved...
"The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided."


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06-23-2014, 11:15 PM
  #70
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So a false dichotomy then.
Great contribution. And way to skirt the question.

No need to answer though. It's clear that less kinder and gentler coaches, um, upset you.

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...Keenan was also a GM killer...
True and the biggest mark against him, IMO. Neil Smith certainly wasn't a fan though Keenan helped get him a Cup.

Keenan's methods upset some players (and clearly some posters' sensibilities), but other players thrived under him. Says as much about those individuals - and their respective makeup - as it does Iron Mike.

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06-24-2014, 12:19 AM
  #71
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Grant Fuhr told this story about Hull and Keenan.
Man, Hull is such a whiny *****. ****ing hate him.

As for Keenan, he's a decent coach. He'll make players miserable when they lose. He recognizes effort, grit, and heart though. Langkow did really well under him. Iginla had two of his best seasons while being coached by Keenan. He does not **** around when he has soft/self entitled players on his team. With that being said, I'm not sure how well he'd do in the NHL today.

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06-24-2014, 12:55 AM
  #72
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Keenan's methods upset some players (and clearly some posters' sensibilities), but other players thrived under him. Says as much about those individuals - and their respective makeup - as it does Iron Mike.
Some of the guys who were upset with Keenan ALSO thrived play wise under him.

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06-24-2014, 07:39 AM
  #73
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Interesting piece from Grantland about Keenan's current life in Russia.

http://grantland.com/features/mike-keenan-russia-khl/

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06-24-2014, 08:32 AM
  #74
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Man, Hull is such a whiny *****. ****ing hate him.

As for Keenan, he's a decent coach. He'll make players miserable when they lose. He recognizes effort, grit, and heart though. Langkow did really well under him. Iginla had two of his best seasons while being coached by Keenan. He does not **** around when he has soft/self entitled players on his team. With that being said, I'm not sure how well he'd do in the NHL today.
See, that was the weird thing... he didn't recognize "effort, grit and heart". Guys you thought would be Keenan-type players, like Corson and Linden, were just as vilified by him as "soft" guys like Kovalev.

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06-25-2014, 01:50 AM
  #75
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It wasn't just "soft" players. Here's Mike Keenan tearing into Trevor Linden very early on in the 1997-98 season--



Keenan alienated lots of people. He got away with it for so long because he was a brilliant coach who revolutionized the game in the 1980s. But like TDMM says above, his act wore thin by the late '90s.
How did he do that? He did manage to find good young players but other than that he wasn't anything special as a coach.

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