TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting via Twitter that Mike Keenan has signed on to coach the New York Rangers…in the 2012 Winter Classic alumni game.
Keenan coached eight NHL teams from 1984 to 2009, but he only won the Stanley Cup once, leading the 1994 Rangers to their first championship since 1940.
But Iron Mike’s Cup-winning season was his first and last with the club. A feud with Rangers GM Neil Smith ended with the coach’s departure to St. Louis.
The enmity built to such proportions that by the time New York won the Cup, Keenan and Smith could hardly stand the sight of each other. Still, it was a shock to adoring Rangers fans when Keenan blew off the final four years of his contract and bolted for St. Louis, where for the first time he was given total control. Keenan claimed that the Rangers had breached his contract by sending out his playoff bonus one day late.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman fined Keenan $100,000 and suspended him for 60 days for the “unseemly spectacle” he had created and then issued a gag order forbidding either side from discussing the settlement, but he allowed Keenan to remain with the Blues. “I left the Rangers because, fundamentally, Neil didn’t want me there,” Keenan says. “He intentionally breached my contract, but that’s in the past, and I want to leave it in the past. There are two sides to every story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle.”
The Winter Classic alumni game will take place on Dec. 31 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. With Keenan behind the bench, the Rangers are expected to dress 10 goalies.