New boss on bench

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:05 AM ET

The Calgary Flames have a new head coach.

A source close to the team confirmed last night Mike Keenan has agreed to a deal and an announcement should be made sometime today.

Jim Playfair, who coached the Flames to eighth place in the Western Conference and a first-round playoff exit against the Detroit Red Wings, is expected to remain with the club as an assistant, which means one of last year's assistant coaches likely will not be back.

Messages left on Keenan's cellphone were not returned before deadline and no one from the Flames front office was available to comment, but it's believed talks have been ongoing for nearly two weeks with Keenan in town.

The Flames were considered an underachieving team last season after capturing the Northwest Division title in 2005-06 when Darryl Sutter was still in a dual role as coach and general manager.

Sutter turned the reins over to Playfair, previously an assistant coach in charge of defence, and his job appeared to be on unsteady ground all year.

Calgary racked up an incredible 30-win home record, but were dismal on the road, going 13-20-8 away from the Saddledome.

The talk was the players had already tuned out their rookie head coach. That is unlikely to happen without consequence under Keenan, who has a history with the Sutter family and last coached the Florida Panthers in 2003-04.

The Voice of the Flames, FAN 960's Peter Maher, who has been calling games in Calgary since the franchise relocated from Atlanta, said Keenan's reputation as an elite coach is well earned.

"He's gonna demand and get performance," Maher said.

"He's a sharp hockey guy and he doesn't settle for anything less than top effort. I know that.

"If the players don't adhere to what he wants, they won't be here."


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