Yes, it's true.
Over the past week, cloud cover has been increasing in Calgary and area as the whole city waited for some light to finally be shed on a couple different things.
Firstly, the weather's been absolutely horrible. And, working outdoors nearly every day for long hours was beginning to make me crazy. With the exception of some spurts here and there on (Canadian) May Long weekend, it seemed like the nice weather would never come. Finally... and I mean, FINALLY, we're enjoying a nice day and what looks to be shaping up to be a great weekend and forecast for the immediate future.
But, more importantly.
The cloud cover surrounding the Calgary Flames has finally been lifted.
We've been treated to some recent player interviews as of late in the local papers. Guys like Craig Conroy and Mike Cammalleri have been featured, and, among other things, have been asked about head coach Mike Keenan. To my disappointment, they both seemed to back Keenan and it seemed like they would encourage him being back (even though Cammy is likely gone).
However, when you read between the lines with what Connie said, it seemed to offer that first glimmer of hope, that first crack of sunlight poking through the cloud cover over-head.
Conroy did say he would support Keenan back, but he HAS to, right? He continued to, very delicately, scrutinize the way Keenan divvied playing time. Connie said that he needed to make guys more accountable and make them earn their minutes. Seems like fundamental coaching 101 doesn't it? But, something Keenan could never grasp... and we all know who the finger is being pointed at in that situation; Todd Bertuzzi.
After I read that, I could see that this is something that has obviously been discussed amongst the players on the team for Conroy to come out in the media and say it.
I never got my hopes up though. Going several weeks waiting for what I thought was the inevitable was starting to sway my feelings on the whole subject.
I was thinking to myself... well, maybe if Sutter doesn't fire Keenan, he can get his act together and start actually coaching. You know, build his own staff with assistants and run it his way.
Yes, I know. Crazy. But, still... I was trying to make the best of what I thought was going to be another long, long year.
Now comes today... Friday. It's effing gorgeous out, and it's supposed to get even better over the next week. And right around 4pm MTN time, the news came out. The news most of Calgary has been waiting for....
Good-bye Mike Keenan, don't let the door hit you on the way out.
The fact this decision took so long leads me to believe the team would have liked to avoid paying Keenan for nothing this season, while having to bring in another coach and pay him as well.
Sutter probably thought into the future and it probably looked a little something like this.
Keenan comes back. Flames bring back Bertuzzi, Aucoin and even add another "Keenan guy" in free agency to fill the line-up. Keenan's "guys" continue to under-achieve but are still rewarded with lots of ice time and no accountability. The Flames look, at times, like the contender they should be. At other times, downright ugly. They sneak into the playoffs in the mid-level standings and lose another heartbreaking first-round series. Distraught, Flames fans start to rebel by dropping season tickets and calling for the head of their GM. Lost revenue and lost faith/hope in the franchise and this city is not headed in the right direction.
Fire Keenan. Hire a coach who can bring in HIS staff. Build the team under your defense-first philosophy. Suffer some bumps along the way to what we hope can be a team that reaches their potential for the post-season.
At least with the latter there's a chance.
***In my last blog I listed Dave Lowry as a potential replacement for Mike Keenan. It looks like this probably won't happen this season as Lowry has taken a position with Hockey Canada for the under-18s.
***Brent Sutter is still under contract with the New Jersey Devils. Some sort of deal would have to be involved monetarily or with draft picks in order for him to go to another NHL team this season. I've been saying since Keenan was hired that it would be Brent who replaces him. But I thought it would be next season. All indications out of Red Deer are that Brent would like to get things back into order with the Rebels before seeking the NHL again. Could Darryl step behind the bench for one season? I doubt it, but it could happen.
Let the speculation begin. For now, let's enjoy the sunlight.