Sports Outside the Beltway

Mike Keenan out as Florida Panthers’ GM; Jacques Martin assumes role

From AP.

Miami- Mike Keenan resigned Sunday as general manager of the Florida Panthers, stepping down after a little more than two years running the team’s day-to-day operations.

Panthers coach Jacques Martin will assume the GM duties, effective immediately, team officials said. The move comes less than two weeks before the club opens training camp.

“Mike has done a tremendous job over the past two years in positioning this franchise for immediate and future success. … He has assembled the most talented team in our franchises history,” Panthers owner Alan Cohen said.

In a statement, the team said Keenan was leaving “to pursue other career opportunities.”

Keenan — who led the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup as coach in 1994 and has coached six other NHL teams, including the Panthers — was not immediately available for comment.

The Panthers first hired Keenan as coach in December 2001, then fired him 23 months later after Florida won only 45 of 153 games played with him behind the bench. Keenan returned to the organization in May 2004, part of a two-pronged move that also brought Martin in as coach.

Keenan made some stirring moves in the past year, in which the Panthers — who haven’t won a single playoff series since making the Stanley Cup finals in 1996 — failed yet again to qualify for the postseason.

Most notably, Keenan opted to trade All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks in June, a move that stunned Luongo — who thought he was on the cusp of agreeing to a long-term deal with the club.

Instead, Keenan made the swap to acquire forward Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman Bryan Allen and goalie Alex Auld from the Canucks, and insisted afterward that it was the best direction for the franchise.

I blogged before about the Luongo trade, it was a bad move. You don’t trade who may be the best goaltender in hockey. The Panthers are still a mediocre offensive team and their goaltending is going to be worse. How that helped the team from anything but a financial point of view is beyond me.

Keenan’s departure fits in with his previous job history He’s like the Lou Saban, Billy Martin or Larry Brown of the NHL, a person who moves(voluntarily or involuntarily) to a new job every few years. Keenan coached 7 teams from 1984-2004. My guess is he will find employment again within a year.

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