Breaking in with the Montreal Canadiens in 1988, Mike Keane was a wide-eyed, undrafted 21-year old out of Winnipeg, who was hoping to make enough of a contribution so that he'd have a decent career in the National Hockey League.
Who knew that 21-years later, the 42-year old (Keane's birthday was Friday) would still be playing professional hockey. Oh, and in his fourth full season playing in the minors. (At least we know Chris Chelios might have a home if he isn't back in the NHL next season.)
The year after the lockout, Keane signed with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League for a salary under $100,000 a year. He had split time with the Vancouver Canucks and the Moose, their affiliate during the 2003-04 season. According to Keane, the love for the game is still there, so why quit now?
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"It's the best job in the world, so why stop?" Keane said. "I enjoy coming to the rink and playing at a high level. I don't want to play just for the sake of playing. I want compete and win and make the best of it."
Keane, who's been serving as captain since 2007, was quick to use his twenty-plus years of experience to quell any thoughts of the Moose falling behind 2-0 before Tuesday night's Game 2:
"At this stage of the game, it's a real mental thing," Keane said after the Moose and Bears hit the ice at the Gateway Recreation Centre yesterday morning. "It's important for us to stay in the now. We're not panicking and we're not worried."
Manitoba was led by Jason Jaffray's hat-trick and even the series at one with a 3-1 victory over Hershey. The AHL's Calder Cup Finals continue on Saturday night in Hershey with Game 3.