Mike Keane will not return to the Manitoba Moose next year, likely retiring. He will most likely be remembered by the NHL community as a Montreal Canadien. He started there, played there 8 seasons, and had the honor of being named the 23rd captain of that storied franchise.
Personally, I remember very little of that. To me, he was a warrior in a Dallas Stars uniform, and rather unforunately, an Avs uniform. He was a great leader, and the hardest working player on the ice more often that not. His retirement, unfortunately, comes not as his choice, but by decision of the Manitoba Moose (or perhaps the Vancouver Canucks). Keane had been training to play again next year, but learned that the Moose will not ask him back for a 7th season with them. He was serving as their captain.
He's a member of the golden age of Dallas Stars hockey, but you might be surprised to look back on his career stats and see he was only with us here in Texas for 4 years. His regular season contributions, while significant in getting Dallas to where they were, were not what endeared the man to us in such a short times. No, that would be his 73 playoff appearances in a Stars uniform. You don't go through 73 battles like that in only 4 springs and not be remembered fondly.
We just talked about this with Darryl Sydor, but Mike Keane is another one of those little acquisitions along the way that led to the Stanley Cup win. It's the kind of move you don't necessarily count as "huge" when it's made, but it was a necessary piece of the puzzle looking back. It's the kind of move you hope to see Joe Nieuwendyk get to make once released from the financial shackles of Tom Hicks; The kind of move he was once part of in coming to Dallas.
(Mike Keane came from the Rangers in the spring of 1998 with Brian Skrudland in exchange for Todd Harvey, Bob Errey, and a 4th round pick.)
This leaves Jamie Langenbrunner (NJD), Mike Modano (???), possible Jere Lehtinen, and Roman Turek (who was playing a Czech league, last I checked) as the last remaining 1999 alums still playing professional hockey. (Brad Lukowich will play with the Texas Stars next year, but his name was not engraved on the cup in 1999). Oh, and a certain Mr. Sergei Zubov in the KHL, of course.
So here's to Mike Keane: Warrior, leader, family man, Dallas Stars Great. After six seasons in the AHL following his NHL career, and at a fraction of the salary, it's not hard to see that the man played the game for all the right reasons; And that's a refreshing thought after a July in the sports world that has been entirely about money.
Alternate reading: SLAM on Mike Keane; Winnipeg Free Press
After the jump, watch Keaner put Jay Pandolfo through the glass...
1999-00 Round 4/Game 2: Keane Hit Breaks the Glass (via McKay4429061)
Whatever happened to Gary Thorne? He was brilliant.