The Keenan Affair
Late Sunday night NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a settlement in the dispute between faithless coach Mike Keenan and his jilted team, the Stanley Cup-champion New York Rangers. Herewith is our tally of the winners and losers.
?Bettman and the NHL: Winners. Bettman brought a speedy end to an ugly struggle, and he kept it in the league offices and out of the courts.
?Bettman and the NHL: Losers. Bettman slapped Keenan with a 60-day suspension for bolting to the St. Louis Blues, for whom he will be both coach and general manager, but ruled that the time be served right away—which means Keenan will be available again on Sept. 24, a week before the regular season opens. This is a bit like suspending a baseball pitcher for three days between starts.
? Keenan: Loser. His $500,000 in fines will most likely be absorbed by the Blues, who signed him to a five-year, $7.5 million deal. But for a coach who preaches togetherness, the damage to his image is incalculable.
?The Rangers: Winners. In a trade intended to compensate New York for the loss of Keenan, the Rangers swapped two well-worn players, left wing Esa Tikkanen, 29, and defenseman Doug Lidster, 33, for 22-year-old center Petr Nedved, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 1990 and a rising star. And by losing Keenan, the Rangers rid themselves of a divisive malcontent. The $25,000 line levied against the team for suing Keenan in violation of an NHL rule meant to discourage such internecine lawsuits is a bargain.
?The Detroit Red Wings: Losers. The club was lined $25,000 for negotiating with Keenan while he was still technically with the Rangers.
?The Blues: Losers. A $250,000 fine and no Nedved is a heavy price to pay for any coach. Also, they enhance their position as the NHL's No. 1 nuisance.
?The Blues: Winners. Keenan will help them competitively—at least until he jumps to his next team.
Terms of Endearment