There are few hockey coaches that can say they are as well traveled as Mike Keenan. Over the course of his career, he’s coached eight teams in four time zones (and two countries) over three decades. Besides the NHL, he’s coached in juniors, college hockey in Canada, and in the American Hockey League. He’s coached a team to the Stanley Cup Final and won—he’s coached a couple of teams to the Stanley Cup Final and lost. He’s coached Team Canada to a couple of Canada Cup victories and even served as an advisor to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association. The man gets around.
Apparently he’s not done. There are reports out of Latvia that the coaching search for the Latvian national team has been narrowed down to two final candidates. Both candidates would agree to coach not only the national team, but also the under-20 team that would participate in the World Junior Championships. Latvian officials are interested in the 61-year-old Keenan, but think they think the other candidate may be more “realistic.” Here’s what the President of the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation (LHF), Kirov Lipman, had to say to the newspaper Diena about the decision-making process:
“A more realistic prospect for the Latvian national team coach is a Canadian specialist. If the coming days we will agree on the details of the contract, already a week late Canadian would arrive in Riga on the signing of the contract”
Lipman went on to say the other Canadian candidate has NHL experience but does not have a Stanley Cup—which narrows it down to about, oh, 100 candidates or so. The good thing for any potential candidate is that Latvia was able to avoid relegation at the World Championships and is still in IIHF’s top grouping. Aside from being competitive, their job at next year’s World Championships and at the 2014 Olympics will be to make sure they remain in the top grouping.
Keenan may be in his 60s and his best coaching years are probably in the rearview mirror, but wouldn’t Iron Mike behind the bench make a Latvia vs. Canada game just a little more watchable? It certainly beats the alternative: watching the game to see if Team Canada will set any offensive records.
We’ll keep you posted as the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation makes their choice.