Keenan joins Rush

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

Derek Keenan is up to the challenge.

The new head coach and general manager of the Edmonton Rush realizes his hiring is expected to pay immediate dividends for the National Lacrosse League club.

"I'm really pleased for the opportunity," Keenan said yesterday. "I think it's a tremendous challenge and that's why I took the job.

"I was looking for something new and different and when the opportunity came, it was pretty easy for me to accept it.

"I know it's not going to be an easy job ... there are some things that need fixing. But I also think there is a really strong core group, and that attracted me as well."

A former NLL GM and coach of the year, Keenan comes to the Rush after four seasons with the Portland LumberJax, whom he guided to the 2008 NLL title.

"I just thought it was time to move on," the Oshawa native said. "This is something different, it's a little closer to home for me. It's one flight instead of two. It's pretty easy for me to get out there, so that was also one of the reasons for me going into Edmonton."

Keenan's coaching career started by winning a championship as a player-coach with the Toronto Rock in 1999. He then became a full-time assistant, winning three more league titles.

Keenan replaces Bob Hamley, who was fired at the end of last season after the Rush failed to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year.

He's the third head coach and GM in the team's four-year history.

"Derek has a long history of winning," said Rush president Gord Sawyer. "He had the full package that we wanted. He analyzed and studied the strength and weaknesses of our team and has some plans for restructuring it.

"We're thrilled to have him. The stars are aligning for the Rush for next season and we're confident that we're going to put an outstanding team on the floor."


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