Many hockey fans might not realize this, but Mike Keenan is still very much an active professional coach. He’s just doing so in Russia.
If there was any question about his commitment to his second hockey home, consider this: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Keenan is in the process of gaining Russian citizenship, and may just help coach the country at the international level:
The native of Whitby, Ont., is in the process of finalizing his Russian citizenship, as is his long-time assistant, Mike Pelino. Russian officials have been encouraging Keenan do this for some time to show fans he is committed to the team, the KHL and the country. Keenan, who says he has learned enough of the Russian language to get by, is in the final year of his contract but doesn’t sound like he’s in any rush to get out. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Once his Russian citizenship has been approved, there is a good chance the highly decorated coach will return to international competition. If all goes as planned, Keenan could be on the bench, or at least a member of Team Russia’s staff, at future championships, including the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in 2016.
Neat stuff, right?
It’s difficult not to take “learning enough of the Russian language to get by” as “locking down a few phrases he can scream at KHL players,” but credit him for following his passion at 65.
Keenan (pictured on the left) is currently in a very successful run with KHL team Magnitogorsk.
Speaking of familiar faces behind KHL benches, it sounds like Sergei Zubov’s getting a big opportunity with SKA St. Petersburg:
According to Igor Eronko, Sergei Kostitsyn is close to signing an NHL contract.
It is currently unknown which team Kostitsyn is negotiating with.
The 28-year-old spent the 2014-15 season with Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL, scoring seven goals and 27 points in 49 games.
Originally a seventh-round selection (200th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens, Kostitsyn last played in the NHL during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, scoring three goals and 12 assists with the Nashville Predators.
Kostitsyn was placed on unconditional waivers by the Preds in July 2013 and signed a reported three-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the KHL.
The 6-foot, 207-pound forward has appeared in 353 NHL games with the Canadiens and Predators scoring 67 goals and 176 points.
Jussi Rynnas has officially signed with Ak Bars Kazan of the KHL, according to Mark Stepneski.
The goaltender was placed on unconditional waivers by the Dallas Stars last week.
Rynnas signed a two-year, $1.1 million contract with Dallas last summer, but after spending a bulk of the 2014-15 season in the American Hockey League, has decided to return overseas.
The 28-year-old appeared in two games with the Stars going 0-1-0 with a 4.57 G.A.A. and an .841 save percentage.
In 39 AHL games with the Texas Stars Rynnas was a 22-6-8 to go along with a 2.53 G.A.A. and a .920 save percentage.
(Related) Report: Heatley considering offers to play in KHL
After spending much of the 2014-15 season in the American Hockey League, Dany Heatley is considering offers to spend next season in the KHL.
The Hockey News cites Championat.com, which is reporting that CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg have contacted Heatley about playing in the KHL next season.
Heatley signed a one-year, $1 million contract with Anaheim last summer, but found himself on waivers after just six games with the Ducks.
In February the Ducks sent Heatley along with a 2015 third-round pick to the Florida Panthers for Tomas Fleischmann.
The 34-year-old had a minus-3 rating in six NHL games during the 2014-15 season. He added eight goals and 12 assists in 43 AHL games split between the Norfolk Admirals and San Antonio Rampage.
Heatley spent part of the 2004-05 lockout in Russia with Ak Bars Kazan scoring three goals and an assist in 11 games.
Restricted free agent Carl Klingberg will sign with the KHL club Torpedo according to Igor Eronko.
Klingberg’s NHL rights belong to the New York Rangers.
The 24-year-old was dealt from Winnipeg to New York in exchange for Lee Stempniak ahead of the March trade deadline.
Klingberg struggled to crack Winnipeg’s lineup appearing in just two games during the 2014-15 season registering a minus-1 rating.
In 64 AHL games split between the St. John’s IceCaps and Hartford Wolf Pack, Klingberg registered 17 goals and 41 points.
Originally a second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers (34th overall) in 2009, Klingberg signed a one-year, two-way $650,000 contract with Winnipeg last summer.