By Paul M. Banks
In order for the Blackhawks to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, they’ll have to first skate past Mike Keenan, the man who guided them to their last cup appearance. Keenan, currently with his 8th team, is to NHL coaching jobs what Elisha Cuthbert is to dating hockey players: they’ve been around the block a few times. The heavily-traded coaching commodity has a long history of getting involved in power plays (of the metaphorical kind) with people at all levels of the organizations he’s been with. His personality breeds controversy, and these controversies have granted him his carpetbagger resume.
After taking the Blackhawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, Keenan eventually lost a power struggle with Senior V.P. Bob Pulford after the 1992–93 season, resigned his position, and was soon hired to coach the New York Rangers. The next season, New York ended their infamous Cup drought. And now Chicago currently has the dubious distinction of longest hockey championship drought. After a 3-2 overtime loss in game one, Keenan was again stirring the pot in Chicago. When he rocked the mic at the post game press conference, he devoted much of his time to his belief that Chicago’s game one win was largely due to illegal goalie interference penalties being perpetrated (but not called) against his team.
“It’s a certainly part of the game plan, It’s a good plan if you can get away with it, and so far they have,” Keenan said regarding the home team possibly illegally pushing his star goalie Miika Kiprusoff over.
I said before the series started (partially because I heard it on NHL Network a couple days ago) that getting Left Wing Mike Cammalleri going would be the key to Keenan’s offense, and Cammalleri lived up to the billing by becoming the lone Calgary representative to earn a “three stars of the game” position in game one. Cammalleri was still upbeat about in the series in the locker room after the loss. “We didn’t get the win, but it’s not a one game series and I love our group,” he said.
But the most important thing Keenan’s bunch must do if they wish to end Chicago’s dominance over them (the Hawks are 5-0 with a +13 goal differential on the season versus Calgary) is to warm up their ice-cold power play. Anticipating a Flames score with a man advantage is like expecting a sober Amy Winehouse, as they currently have a 0-45 power play drought in effect.