In a bold, tell-all interview with Sportsnet 960, former Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan ripped the organization that once employed him.
Keenan spent two seasons as the Flames head coach (2007-08/2008-09) and was at the helm of the last Calgary team to make the postseason. Since his termination, the Flames have done plenty to re-invent themselves (or erase the Keenan era, depending how you look at it.) They traded away the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr, Matthew Lombardi and Daymond Langkow while allowing free agents like Adrian Aucoin, Eric Nystrom, and Todd Bertuzzi to walk altogether.
That was a mistake, according to Keenan.
Ironically, the team has not made the playoffs since Keenan’s last season and he believes it can be traced back to how the franchise is being run and the way they move players out of town rather quickly.
“Some of the decisions made about personnel, there has been a lot of discrepancy, there’s been fighting in the locker room between [former Flames Robin] Regehr and [Dion] Phaneuf at the time and you settle those things out as a coaching staff and a team but you don’t dismantle people and move people.
The Phaneuf-Regehr beef has long been a favorite of message board posters, but it does have a history with mainstream media as well. Here’s what Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy wrote following the Phaneuf-to-Toronto trade of 2010:
Something was clearly wrong with the mix in Calgary. Everyone knows that Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr did not get along very well off the ice, and weren’t a great pair on it.
Sure teammates don’t have to be best friends to perform well but it helps if they communicate. And from what we’re hearing Phaneuf and Regehr hardly spoke at all.
As for Keenan, he wonders if trading Phaneuf was a mistake.
“When you got a superstar forward [Jarome Iginla] and certainly a winning goalie [Miikka Kiprusoff], you need to be anchored by a defenseman that would have the calibre of carrying a team,” Keenan said. “I don’t know if Phaneuf would have drawn into that. He certainly had more upside than another defenseman that I was coaching and he’s a guy that needs a lot of direction and you need to be firm him but he can give you minutes and results offensively.”
In 164 games with the Flames, Keenan had a record of 88-60-16.