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Keenan quits as Panthers GM
Mike Keenan has resigned as General Manager of the Flordia Panthers, a position he held since May 2004. Reports out of Florida indicate that Keenan approached owner Alan Cohen last week to let him know that he was going to move on. This decision comes as somewhat of a surprise as Mike was on his way to putting a very distinctive stamp on this team. His big trade this off-season was with the Vancouver Canucks that sent goalie Robert Luongo and prospect Lukas Krajicek for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan Allen and goalie Alex Auld. Keenan also signed free-agents Ed Belfour and Ruslan Salei to sure up the backend.
These moves were by no means dumb; the free-agent signings make sense and the consensus on the trade is that both teams had to get the respective main characters (Bertuzzi and Luongo) out of town. The Panthers could compete this year with a good mix of veteran leadership and young players, coached by the savvy Jacques Martin who enters his second year behind the bench. So why the sudden decision to leave Flordia? I don't think this is in anyway a cover-up for Mike having been fired. There is some talk online about Keenan and Martin not seeing eye to eye; now this is possible but I doubt Mike would be the one to walk away on these terms. It could be "health or personal" reasons but who knows - a very strange move indeed.
For now Jacques Martin has taken over the dual role of coach and GM. It seems like he still wants to coach so we will have to wait and see how long this dual role lasts. There is no shortage of experienced hockey people out there...Pat Quinn and Neil Smith come to mind immediately.