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: