SUN Hockey Pool

Flames sack Keenan

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:36 AM ET

CALGARY -- Expectations were much higher for the Calgary Flames than a fourth consecutive first-round exit from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Nearly a month removed from that disappointing ending, head coach Mike Keenan paid for it with his job.

"Our team did not meet expectations," Flames general manager Darryl Sutter said in a statement yesterday. "We believe this is a necessary change required to allow our team to continue toward our objective of winning the Stanley Cup."

Sutter will address the media on Tuesday, while Keenan -- who now has exited eight NHL teams -- is also expected to make a statement next week.

At least one Flames player openly agreed with Sutter's decision. Alternate captain Robyn Regehr said firing Keenan -- who will still have to be paid for the final season remaining on his three-year agreement with the Flames -- was the right move.

"I think it's a very good thing for the team," Regehr said. "I think we will become a better team with this decision made. It's just my feeling."

Sutter guided the Flames to the Stanley Cup final in 2004. Since then, they've failed to get past the opening round. Three head coaches have tried -- Sutter, Jim Playfair, and Keenan.

"Probably the biggest issue we're dealing with right now is philosophies," Regehr said. "(Keenan is) a coach who had most of his success in the 1980s when the strategy was so much different. I think a lot of coaches from that time, the game has sort of moved past them.

"I think that was holding us back as a team."

Many fans and members of the media expected Keenan to be sent packing, but winger Craig Conroy was not among them.

"I never know what's going on, that's why I just play," Conroy said with a laugh yesterday. "I thought Mike was going to be here."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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