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Mike Keenan out as coach/GM of KHL’s Kunlun Red Star

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Days after losing his role as general manager, Mike Keenan has now been relieved of his coaching responsibilities by Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. Following nine straight defeats, which places them near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 68-year-old will remain as an executive member on the team’s International Advisory Board.

Former NHLer Bobby Carpenter will take reins behind the bench on an interim basis with fellow ex-players Cliff Ronning and Igor Kravchuk staying on as assistants.

“Mike Keenan has done a great job for several months,” said Kunlun president Raitis Pilsetnieks via SovSport (translated). “He formed a completely new KHL team, and also took an active part in building the entire club structure, which is part of a large-scale project for the development of Chinese hockey in the run-up to the Winter Olympics in 2022.

“Since March, he worked almost without days off, and we were often amazed at his amazing endurance and efficiency. But, unfortunately, everything has a limit, and the work, coupled with a huge number of flights, is beyond his strength. Therefore, it was decided to return to the original form of cooperation. I have no doubt that as a member of the International Coordination Council Mike Keenan will bring a lot of benefits to the club and the Chinese hockey in general.”

Kunlun responded well to the news by snapping their nine-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win against Amur on Sunday.

Keenan, who was the first coach to win championships in the KHL and NHL, joined Kunlun in March 17 months after he was canned by Metallurg Magnitogorsk, with whom he led to a Gagarin Cup title in 2014.

So will we hear Keenan’s pop up whenever the first NHL head coach gets fired this season? He’s been out of the NHL game since 2009, but that never stopped general managers from bringing in a retread. Hey, how about a Philadelphia reunion? OK, that’s probably a pipe dream. But given Keenan’s recent coaching history, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him resurface behind a bench elsewhere in Europe.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Iron Mikhail? Keenan may coach Russia in international competition

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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:

Keenan wants back in the NHL: “I still have the intellect for it, the knowledge and the passion”

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Iron Mike, coming to an arena near you?

(Obviously not if a lockout occurs, but try to play along.)

That’s what the man himself suggested in a recent interview. Yes, Mike Keenan — who turns 63 in October — told NHL.com he’d like to get back behind an NHL bench and add to his 672 career wins.

“I’d love to coach back in the League. You never know if the game is going to call you back or not,” Keenan said. “I still have the intellect for it, the knowledge and the passion for the game.”

Keenan hasn’t coached in the NHL since 2008-09, when he led Calgary to a 46-30-6 record and the club’s most recent playoff berth (the Flames since missed the last three postseasons.)

Even though he’d be the oldest coach in the league, Keenan’s return isn’t far-fetched. He interviewed with Caps GM George McPhee for the then-vacant Washington gig back in June, and says his age could be an asset in a league where one third of the coaches are under the age of 46.

“Bowman coached almost until he was 70. Hitchcock set a good example. He’s the oldest coach in the League and won Coach of the Year,” Keenan said. “I know if I can get back in the League I can do a superb job. Whether that will ever happen, I have no idea.”

Caps interviewed Mike Keenan regarding head coaching gig

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After some soul searching, the Washington Capitals decided to go with a first-time head coach (and one would think, offense-first guy) in Adam Oates. Darren Dreger provides an fascinating wrinkle to that decision-making process, though: the Caps also interviewed “Iron” Mike Keenan before choosing Oates.

Mike Keenan interviewed for head coaching job in Wash. McPhee called to tell him he was out, just before news broke Oates had been hired.

There are so many different things to take from that scenario. The most obvious one is the mind-blowing concept of Keenan working with Alex Ovechkin. Yup, that would have been … interesting.

Regardless of how serious the Capitals really were when interviewing Keenan, it reveals how much of a fork in the road Washington GM George McPhee was at after Dale Hunter left. He could have gone in a similar – possibly more restrictive – direction with Keenan, but instead he opted for a (seemingly) more player-friendly guy in Oates.

That shouldn’t stop you from picturing the hockey “Odd Couple” that would have been Keenan & Ovechkin. How well do you think they could have worked?

Video: Jeremy Roenick has harsh words for Radulov’s and Kostitsyn’s late night

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It’s been a tough few days for two European Nashville Predators Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Radulov. Both players saw their team fall down 2-0 to the Phoenix Coyotes while Radulov in particular faced some tough reprimands from Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones for his Game 2 struggles. Roenick and Mike Keenan were on hand today to discuss the latest bump in the road for Radulov and Kostitsyn, who won’t play in Game 3 due to breaking “team rules.”

Let’s just say Roenick spoke like he played: without pulling punches.

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