Few NHL coaches have been as controversial as Mike Keenan. He was nicknamed Iron Mike, which said about everything about him. He was tough and always spoke up when he felt something was wrong.
Some of his former players love him and claim he’s the best coach they ever had, but not everyone is a huge fan. Keenan’s coaching style was straightforward and often pretty rough.
Keenan could humiliate his players, send them in and out of a team in an hour, and wasn’t afraid of criticizing his players, often to reporters.
There are horror stories out there about the things Keenan has done to his players. This was during an era when NHL was tougher, but some players still hated it and had a hard time accepting it. Kevin Miller is one of those guys.
The NHL veteran scored many points in the 80s and 90s in New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders, and the Ottawa Senators.
Keenan was the coach for Miller in the Blues in the mid-90s, and the forward didn’t have an easy time. He didn’t get the ice time he wanted, despite Miller believing he scored his fair share of points and was often in and out of the lineup. Once, he and teammate Curtis Joseph pulled an epic prank on Keenan just to get Miller back on the team.
”It was tough, lots of mind-games, lots of tricks he tried to play. You’d be in the lineup, out the lineup,” Miller said in The Broadway Hat Podcast.
”One game I was out of the lineup in the pre-game skate, and Curtis Jones was one of my best buddies. I used to do a lot of golfing with him, and just hanging out. I told him, ’Cujo, just leave your glove down all practice.’ So all I did was shoot over his glove, and everything went in.”
”And with five minutes to go of the pre-game practice, Keenan goes, ’Miller, get down to that fourth line.’ So I ended up getting in the game that night.”