Keenan in the eye of the Storm

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

The man who occupies Derek Keenan's old office in Toronto gives the Anaheim Storm general manager/coach top marks for his rebuilding project. "What they have now is far better than anything (the Storm franchise) has ever had," Rock GM/coach Terry Sanderson said on the eve of a National Lacrosse League game between Toronto (5-3) and the host Storm (2-6) today.

Keenan will see most of the Toronto players today for the first time since he was fired as Rock GM/assistant coach after the team started 2-4 last season. While the Storm's record is nothing to write home about, at least Keenan has brought some professionalism to a franchise that had become the joke of the NLL.

Just 9-39 in its first three seasons in the league (one in Anaheim and two in New Jersey), the Storm made Keenan its fifth coach in its short history at the beginning of the season. After inheriting a mess, Keenan started fiddling with his roster and now has 16 players who were not part of last season's 1-15 team. More than half of the Storm players reside in Southern California, making practising easier.

This week, Keenan made a good move, acquiring transitional sparkplug Bill Greer from the Arizona Sting.

"When I interviewed for the job, I didn't pull any punches," said Keenan, a recreation supervisor for the city of Oshawa. "I told them we had to rebuild. Would you like to see more wins? Why wouldn't you? But we're getting there."

Two of the Storm's losses have been one-goal defeats, including last week against the powerful Colorado Mammoth. With no player over age 30, growing pains are expected.

"It's a challenge but who in this game doesn't like a challenge?" said Keenan, who hired ex-Rock scout Jeremy Tallevi as an assistant coach. "It's a challenge I'm more than up for. That's why I took it on."

Keenan, who signed a one-year contract because he was unsure how much of a toll the commuting would take on his young family, is leaning toward returning next season, if the team wants him back. While he wasn't shy about criticizing the Rock after what he felt was an early firing last season, Keenan said revenge is not on his mind.

"You've got to remember lacrosse is a small community. You can't burn bridges," he said. "The past is the past and things happen for a reason."


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