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Mike Keenan rumored to be possible next coach of Pittsburgh Penguins


Former Rangers coach Mike Keenan hasn't been in the NHL since 2009. (Scott Levy/Getty Images)

Mike Keenan

By Allan Muir

It's expected that a few jobs will be lost in the wake of the Penguins' stunning Game 7 defeat at the hands of the Rangers on Tuesday night. And it's a good bet that coach Dan Bylsma will be among the casualties.

Nothing's happened yet, of course. The wounds are a little too fresh for the organization to have had that discussion just yet. But that hasn't stopped rumors from circulating about his possible replacement. And one of 'em is a doozy.

Would you believe the next coach of the Pens could be ... Mike Keenan?

Iron Mike's name was floated this morning on Toronto radio by Sportsnet commentator Nick Kypreos.

"People are already talking like Bylsma's gone," Kypreos said. "One name that popped up a few minutes ago to take over in Pittsburgh is Mike Keenan."

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It's possible someone brought his name up in conversation, but this sure feels like Kypreos was going for shock value more than anything.

Granted, the NHL has been in the recycling business a long time and a little success buys a lot of longevity.

Keenan ranks sixth all-time in NHL coaching wins with 672 after stints with the Flyers, the Blackhawks, the Rangers -- with whom he won a Stanley Cup in 1994 -- the Canucks, the Blues, the Bruins and the Panthers.

His last gig behind an NHL bench was in Calgary in 2008-09 (was it really that long ago?), when he guided the Flames to a 46-30-6 record and a first round playoff defeat. He made a grand return to coaching this past season, leading Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL to the Gagarin Cup.

Championships tend to reflect well on a coach, and given that Keenan has been out of the NHL for five years, maybe enough time has passed that he'd get another sniff. But just last week, he told CBC's Mike Brophy that he's perfectly happy where he is.

"I don't think about it anymore," Keenan said of an NHL return. "People had an opportunity to hire me before and they didn't. I was out [of coaching] for about three years and doing TV, and when the opportunity to coach in Russia came along, I took some time to think about it and then decided to do it. They want me back, and at this point that's the only option I have.

"I'm too old to be sitting here worrying about if I'm going to get a chance to coach in the NHL again. I did not take the job in the KHL as a vehicle to get me back to the NHL. I know I can coach in the NHL, but there is no interest."

Has that changed since Pittsburgh blew a seemingly airtight 3-1 series lead to New York? We'll have to wait and see.

Rangers-Penguins Game 7 recap | Box score | What next for each team?