Despite a long-term contract offer, Mike Keenan will not be coaching in Russia next season.
The former Stanley Cup champion and winner of 672 NHL games turned down a long-term contract with the Kontinental Hockey League’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk because the Russian location would prove too difficult as his family is dealing with health issues.
Magnitogorsk is no stranger to hiring coaches with NHL experience. Paul Maurice guided the club in 2012-13, but according to an R-Sport report, decided to part ways the club back in March.
“The reason is family circumstances,” a source told the Russian news outlet. “His family doesn’t want him to leave for the job in Russia.”
Magnitogorsk, a perennial contender for the KHL championship, was eliminated in the quarterfinals this spring. The club served as the lockout home for NHLers Evgeni Malkin, Sergei Gonchar, Ryan O’Reilly and Nikolai Kulemin. Metallurg’s Mats Zuccarello rejoined the New York Rangers after the KHL season.
As for Keenan, a Hockey Central insider who last coached professionally for the Calgary Flames from 2007 to 2009, he does have plans to coach this July in Israel.
Set to guide Maccabi Canada’s 2013 entry in the Maccabiah Games in Israel, the 63-year-old Keenan will oversee a club that is expected to include a mix of pro players from the AHL and ECHL, plus NCAA and junior talent.
Canada won the Maccabiah gold in 1997, the only other time the Games included ice hockey as a sport.
“I’m really excited about it. It’s a place I’ve never been,” Keenan told The Canadian Jewish News in February. “It will be a new experience, a new opportunity to learn about [Israel] first hand. It will be very interesting.”