Keenan keen on his Rush

GERRY MODDEJONGE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:19 PM ET

Derek Keenan is not about to strike out.

He's taking over his third NLL team as general manager and head coach with the Edmonton Rush this season after the previous two franchises folded.

That's not to say it had everything to do with Keenan -- a coach doesn't exactly have control over the economic global market -- but it's still not exactly the best track record to have.

"Believe me, I've thought about that," Keenan said with a laugh.

"I've always been proud of my success on the floor, but we need to do a little bit better with the business, I think, too. We have some really good people in that area.

"I even said this to the ownership group when I interviewed that with Edmonton being the tremendous sports town that it is, I think if the team has success we're going to start filling the building."

Which is exactly what didn't happen with the Anaheim Storm, a team Keenan improved to 5-11 from their 1-15 record the previous season.

Although it was a step in the right direction, the Storm blew out after that 2005 season due to low attendance.

Keenan then went on to coach the Portland LumberJax, the first expansion team to win their division in 2006.

For that effort, he was named the NLL's GM and coach of the year.

But the early success couldn't stop the LumberJax from dropping out of the league after last season.

"I've been around the league a long time," said Kennan.

"I was in Toronto for kind of their glory years and then I was fortunate to be able to leave and build an expansion franchise to have some success.

"I think teams that have struggled look for quick fixes, and we're not really trying to do that. We're trying to build on what was already there and we've gone out and got what I believe are character players that are going to take us to the next level."

But from a business perspective, one complaint has been the team's defensive- oriented philosphy wasn't attracting new fans.

"I think that's all going to start with our transition game that we've made such a big improvement on," Keenan said. "When I analyzed this team, even prior to getting the job, it was the No. 1 thing."

The Rush was minus-30 in transition, scoring 28 goals and giving up more than 60.

"Those are big numbers and that's where we're going to improve," Keenan said.

"And then from the front end we need to get more athletic because they were giving up too many transition goals."

GERRY.MODDEJONGE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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