SUN Hockey Pool

Keenan's style wore thin

Leaning heavily on his veteran stars, Mike Keenan didn't endear himself to the younger Flames. (Sun...

Leaning heavily on his veteran stars, Mike Keenan didn't endear himself to the younger Flames. (Sun Media/Stuart Dryden)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

Stirring a lot of discussion with his honest opinions upon hearing head coach Mike Keenan was fired Friday, Robyn Regehr once again showed his leadership.

He was the one voice willing to offer some insight into the team's troubles getting on board with their coach.

But Regehr wasn't alone.

Many Calgary Flames players are looking forward to a fresh start this fall when a new bench boss starts his quest to guide this team to a title.

Regehr was just the guy to represent them.

His words carry weight in the dressing room.

Apparently, Keenan's weren't as respected.

Flames GM Darryl Sutter must have gathered that much during his exit interviews.

He didn't ask for specifics on the individual coaches -- the assistants are currently all under review as well, with their contracts set to expire at end of June -- but Sutter can read between the lines if his players don't outright suggest those kind of changes need to be made.

Why else would Keenan be fired after his team won 88 games over two seasons?

While many enjoyed the man formerly known as Iron Mike on a personal level, he couldn't get them all to buy into his plan.

Leaning heavily on his veteran stars, Keenan didn't endear himself to the younger players, some of whom felt they earned more of an opportunity than they were given.

As Regehr suggested, the message -- or at least the method -- might have been a little outdated where the vets were concerned, too.

Waiting just as eagerly as the fans for Sutter to introduce a new coach, Flames players scattered all over the globe now hope the new leader brings something fresh to the table.

What they might get is the fresh feel of an old boot on their backsides.

Holding a press conference tomorrow, Flames reps have said Sutter is not expected to announce the name of a new head coach.

Many feel it's time the GM himself to jump back behind the bench.

The timing will never be better with the club already paying Keenan for a final NHL season and a prevailing thought another Sutter -- Brent -- will be the man a year from now.

While there's no debating the workload of dual roles is a heavy one, Darryl Sutter has enough people in place who could take on some of the GM duties.

Here's why Sutter should be the man behind the bench: It's his team, and it's a good team.

And he might be the only person who can get the players to prove it when it counts.

Deemed an underachieving squad ever since it overachieved all the way to the Stanley Cup final under Sutter's guidance in 2004, the Flames are as talented as any version has been in the 20 years since winning it all.

A new coach with a new vision might need time to get everyone on the same page.

Sutter comes with instant credibility.

Players know him.

Players fear him.

Most importantly, they respect him.

Any new coach will have to earn that. It took two seasons for management to realize Keenan couldn't.


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