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Keenan on coaches who have stood test of time

by Dan Rosen

LAS VEGAS -- Since we had Mike Keenan in an interview chair for a while we couldn't let him go without asking him to give his thoughts on coaches in today's game that he admires.

To nobody's surprise, the 63-year-old Keenan immediately started talking about the veteran bench bosses. He mentioned four in particular:

"I like, and because of my age I guess, the senior guys because I know how difficult it is to stay in that job and to be on top of your game like Ken Hitchcock, like Joel Quenneville, like Darryl Sutter, like John Tortorella," Keenan told "These are guys that have had success, they've all won a Cup, and it's tough to stay in it.

"A lot of guys get spun out. The game doesn't call them back and they're done. That's probably the case for most people."

It's not for Hitchcock, Quenneville, Sutter and Tortorella.

So, what does he like about each of them? We'll let Iron Mike, a Stanley Cup winner himself, tell you that:

On Hitchcock: "He's a fanatic about the game of hockey. He loves the game, loves everything about it in terms of the strategy involved, putting a team together, developing a team, putting the pieces together to build a championship team. That's his life. I can relate to guys like that because for some reason you can't get it out of your system. He's an example of that."

On Quenneville: "He spent a lot of his time and worked hard at his game, was a journeyman player, and then became a student of the game to become a good coach."

On Sutter: "He dabbled in management and has come back. He's not as engaging about the game, but I know him well. He worked for me and he knows now and always did know what the ingredients were. People don't remember, but Darryl wasn't like the other Sutters, he went to Japan and played there and then came back to make it in the NHL. He was a student of the game as well."

On Tortorella: "I have a great relationship with him. He's an interesting character in terms of his approach to the game. He's very engaging, very emphatic about how he thinks the game should look and how his team should play. He's had success doing it. I like him because he's a no-nonsense guy like Sutter. Quenneville and Hitchcock are probably more flexible in their thinking."

Of the younger generation of coaches in the NHL, Keenan is most interested in seeing how Carolina's Kirk Muller develops. Muller played for Keenan in international tournaments.

"He's coming along," Keenan said of Muller. "I had him as a player and now he's learning his trade. He's bounced around, had some experience and now he's gotta prove that he can do this. Only time will tell. Those other four guys, time has said yes, they can do the job."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

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