Mike Keane released by Manitoba Moose, retirement next?

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mikekeanemoose.jpgHockey’s ability to give some players a career longer than some might ever imagine is pretty amazing. Sure, we all know that Chris Chelios would play until he’s 70 years-old if he could. Gordie Howe played until both of his sons were grown men and they played on a line together in Hartford. To hear about former Canadien, Avalanche, Ranger, Star, Blue, and Canuck Mike Keane and how he was still going in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose is truly incredible. That’s why today’s news that Keane was released by the Moose comes as such a surprise.

The Manitoba Moose are parting ways with 43-year-old captain Mike Keane. The AHL team, the top affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks, says it won’t offer a new deal to Keane. Last season, his fifth as Moose skipper, Keane had nine goals and 22 assists in 75 games. Keane played 1,230 games in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup with Montreal, Colorado and Dallas. He made his pro debut with the Sherbrooke Canadiens in 1987.

That’s right, he debuted with the Canadiens’ AHL team 23 years ago. Over that time, he’s been a part of multiple Stanley Cup winners both in Montreal and Denver. But is there a chance he’ll get to play for someone else in the AHL? Ken Wiebe of SLAM! Sports says that this is the end of the road for Keane.

Mike Keane is hanging up the blades, but it’s not because he lost his passion for the sport he loves.

Although he declined an interview request on Monday night, the three-time Stanley Cup winner confirmed to The Sun that he was informed he won’t be asked back for a sixth season with the Manitoba Moose.

If this is indeed the end of the road for Keane, it’s been one hell of a ride for the classic third-line grinder. He was the blood and guts of every team he played for in the NHL, always playing the role of the “tough cop” unafraid to get in another guy’s face or drop the gloves if needed. While Keane seemed to leave the NHL quietly and just keep playing, it makes too much sense that if he is retiring he’s doing so on his terms and out of the spotlight.