“No Best, Only Better” - Legendary Coach Mike Keenan appointed Kunlun Red Star Head Coach
Source: Club Press-Office
On 16th March 2017, Beijing Kunlun Red Star Ice Hockey Club announced legendary coach Mike Keenan will take over Vladimir Yurzinov Jr. as head coach of Kunlun Red Star Men’s Team. He will lead KRS to play in KHL next season.
Acceptance of resignation of Mr. Yurzinov
On 2nd March of this year, after last game of club’s playoff, Mr. Yurzinov submitted his resignation to the club due to his personal and family reasons. After return to China, the Club had deep communication with Mr. Yurzinov, and decided to accept his resignation, but Mr. Yurzinov will remain his position as member of KRS technical committee and continue to support and advise the development of the club.
During the interview of KRS Chairman, Mr. Xiaoyu Zhao, he has highly appreciated and acknowledged the work of Mr. Yurzinov. Chairman Zhao said, “It is very difficult for him to coach and manage the team to make the KHL playoff in such a short time. It is a great outcome of Mr. Yurzinov and General Manager Vladimir Kerchin’s joint efforts. Mr. Yurzinov created a strong foundation for the team, and all Chinese fans will remember his contribution to Chinese ice hockey.”
Legendary Coach Made His Chinese Dream
New head coach Mike Keenan is also a familiar face for Chinese ice hockey fans. On 26th February 2017, Mike Keenan was appointed as a member of KRS technical committee, and attended the first committee meeting in Beijing. During the event, he expressed the willingness to contribute to the development of KRS and Chinese ice hockey. Mr. Keenan said, “In Canada, ice hockey is its religion. Right now, China has rapidly growth in economy and political influence, and it has already demonstrated its ability of becoming World No.1. I hope I could make some efforts for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in 5 years’ time, and doing my bit for the club.”
Mike Keenan, 67, is the only North American coach that has won both championships of NHL and KHL. His exceptional experience of both leagues made him the best choice for KRS.
Mr. Keenan served as head coach and/or general manager with several NHL teams, including Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Black Eagles, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames between 1984 and 2009.Keenan won a “Stanley Cup” championship as coach of the New York Rangers in 1994. In May 2013, Keenan signed a contract with KHL team Metallurg Magnitogorsk. In April 2014, his team won the KHL champion “Gagarin Cup” after 20 years of his “Stanley Cup”.
Two Objectives: Chinese Faces and Playoff Games
It is worth mentioning, Metallurg Magnitogorsk the defending KHL champion, is the strongest opponent among all teams in the eastern conference where KRS is playing in, which means it is inevitable for KRS to confront Metallurg Magnitogorsk as a team targeting to win. KRS’s journey in the last season was also ended while fighting against them in the playoffs.
In the same time, apart from announcing the appointment of the new head coach, Chairman Zhao has also emphasized: On the road pursuing Higher, Faster and Stronger, there is nothing called THE BEST, there is only THE BETTER; and with Mike Keenan joining us, KRS is going to enter a new era. Mike Keenan will bring along a brand new North American training system, which is to be collaborated with the current Russian and Finish systems, and build a team that is more comprehensive and competitive.
As implied by KRS President Mr. Zhao, two targets are also set for Mike Keenan in the new season (2017/2018). The first goal is to ensure at least five Chinese players would be playing in the games, and they will play with sufficient time. For this purpose, KRS will host draft camps in Beijing, Toronto and Boston to select outstanding Chinese hockey players globally. The second goal is to make sure the team make a progress in playoff games and at least enter the second round, in which case, we will be one step closer to win Gagarin Championship.