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Flames hire Keenan as coach

NHL.com @NHL

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -Mike Keenan turned out to be the right man for Flames general manager Darryl Sutter.

The well-traveled Keenan was hired to his eighth league head coaching job Thursday, taking over before a season that could be the last for two key Calgary players. Superstar Jarome Iginla and goalie Miikka Kiprusoff become unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2007-08 season.

Perhaps that's why Sutter went with a familiar face. Keenan gave Sutter his first NHL coaching job when he was the GM in Chicago.

"We've coached with each other, against each other and for each other, all those things," Sutter said. "I can't say that I've been associated with a coach or worked with a coach that has a more focused vision than him."

Keenan agreed to a three-year deal to replace Jim Playfair, who will remain as an assistant after leading the Flames to the playoffs.

Keenan, who has 569 victories in 1,014 games as an NHL coach, said the opportunity to work with Sutter again was a big factor in his decision to take the job.

"That had everything to do with it, to work with people that you know and share the same vision," Keenan said. "We've been to games in the finals before and we got close to the job that was unfinished. Hopefully, we're in a position now that we can go to that same spot and finish it off."

Keenan won the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers in 1994, and Thursday was the 13th anniversary of that title.

Playfair joined the Flames as an assistant under Sutter in 2002 before being promoted last season. The Flames finished 43-25-10, eighth in the Western Conference. They were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by Detroit in six games.

"This has been a tough process for him to go through," Keenan said. "There's a lot to be said about a man who can make those types of choices with his family."

The 57-year-old Keenan was honored as the league's top coach in 1985 after leading the Philadelphia Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals. He took the Chicago Blackhawks to the Cup finals in 1992. Keenan also coached St. Louis, Vancouver, Boston and Florida, and was the Panthers' GM until he resigned in September.

"You never know how the game is going to call you back, do you?" Keenan said. "I'd love to stay here and end my career here."

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