Open Mike in Calgary

New Flames coach Mike Keenan is sizing up Calgary and the Flames roster. (Sun File/Darren...

New Flames coach Mike Keenan is sizing up Calgary and the Flames roster. (Sun File/Darren Makowichuk)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

With cell phone in hand and wife Nola navigating from the passenger seat, Mike Keenan set out in search of the closest Home Depot yesterday.

In the midst of closing the deal on a condo in Kensington, the former Florida residents set out to get a lay of the land, not to mention a long list of items for their new abode.

"This is an interesting street," said Keenan, thinking aloud as he looked for a sign identifying his whereabouts.

"Lots of nice little shops ... it says 17th Ave. S.W."

Unbeknownst to the Flames new head coach, he was smack dab in the middle of the Red Mile -- an interesting thoroughfare, indeed, that he will be chiefly responsible for filling this and every spring he's here.

"Oh yeah, I saw that on TV," confirmed Iron Mike.

Outside of visiting Calgary as head coach of seven previous NHL clubs, Keenan says he has spent time here over the years visiting former in-laws, a cousin and even ventured to the Stampede in his 20s.

However, he admits it will take time to get his bearings on and off the ice, which is exactly what the Flames development camp for prospects -- which opened yesterday -- will be all about over the next five days.

"I've had a general overview of the organization from afar, but my first introduction to these prospects will come tomorrow," said Keenan of a 34-player camp at the Don Hartman North East Sportsplex aimed at familiarizing players and coaches with one another.

"It's about introducing them to the culture of the organization and the city. Most teams do these things now, but Philly might have been the first team to do it in 1985. I remember I got reprimanded by the league because they thought I was trying to get an advantage. I said, 'That's exactly what I'm trying to do.' "

After spending the last month wrapping up commitments with various media outlets and the Swedish Hockey Federation, for which he consults, Keenan is now ready to dive head first into an assignment that still has local fans debating.

Amongst the notables he'll see are Leland Irving, Matt Keetley, Andrei Taratukhin, Dustin Boyd, Kris Chucko, Dan Ryder and Darryl Sutter's son Brett.

"When we have discussions, we try to make progressions on how the team will evolve and this is a big part of it for me," said the 57-year-old, who last coached Florida in 2003.

"You want to identify the strength of the organization and the players most likely to have an opportunity to play here."

Since being introduced as Jim Playfair's replacement June 14, Keenan has seen Sutter add Adrian Aucoin, Cory Sarich, Owen Nolan and Anders Eriksson to the lineup.

Keenan saw plenty of Sarich in Florida and expects him to play against the league's top forwards.

He was Aucoin's coach in Vancouver when he scored 23 goals, making him a key right-handed weapon for the powerplay. Eriksson adds depth.

But it was the addition of Nolan that seemed to have him most excited.

"I'm happy he chose Calgary -- I'm sure he had options," said Keenan, who has never coached the veteran winger.

"He's coming to a city where there are high expectations and a lot of notoriety, and he's coming back to be an impact player -- a real contributor for us. If you look behind Jarome (Iginla) and see him and (David) Moss -- that's three big men with skating skills."

His introduction to the rest of the club's young, impressionable talent starts today.

Assuming he can find the rink.


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