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Dreger: ‘Iron Mike’ may become Comrade Keenan

I was reading about this during the summer, and now TSN's Darren Dreger is confirming that Mike Keenan, who's become a highly-respected coach with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the KHL, may in fact become a Russian citizen to help the Russian national team:

Mike Keenan's name pops up from time to time in NHL circles, usually in a story a former player or assistant coach has from an infamous experience with the legendary coach during his NHL days. Keenan coached 1386 NHL games and ranks seventh on the all-time wins list with 672.

At 65, Keenan is still working his craft, coaching Magnitogorsk in the KHL. Keenan is highly regarded in Russia having piloted his team to the league championship, the Gagarin Cup, in 2013-14. However, he may on the verge accomplishing something unique in the world of hockey, if not extraordinary.

The native of Whitby, Ont., is in the process of finalizing his Russian citizenship, as is his long-time assistant, Mike Pelino.  Russian officials have been encouraging Keenan do this for some time to show fans he is committed to the team, the KHL and the country. Keenan, who says he has learned enough of the Russian language to get by, is in the final year of his contract but doesn't sound like he's in any rush to get out. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

Once his Russian citizenship has been approved, there is a good chance the highly decorated coach will return to international competition. If all goes as planned, Keenan could be on the bench, or at least a member of Team Russia's staff, at future championships, including the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in 2016.

If the Russians opt to include Keenan in upcoming championships, the historical link would be captivating. Iron Mike coached Team Canada to victory in the 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups, with both tournaments littered with incredible storylines both on and off the ice.

Dreger continues with discussions regarding PK Subban's off-ice business interests and the bumps the coach's challenge has faced thus far.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+keenan, world+cup+of+hockey

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com