Report: Keenan, Panthers agree to settlement

Updated: September 12, 2006, 11:19 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Ten days after announcing their separation, Mike Keenan's divorce from the Florida Panthers has been finalized.

TSN of Canada reported on its Web site Tuesday night that the two sides agreed to a settlement on the balance of Keenan's contract. No details were available.

"I am pleased to report that I have resolved all outstanding issues with the Florida Panthers relating to my employment and my departure on an amicable basis," Keenan told TSN.

"I would particularly like to thank [team owner] Alan Cohen and the Panthers for giving me not only one but two opportunities to work for their organization. Most importantly, Alan Cohen and I remain good friends and I want to wish him and the Panthers all the best in the future," Keenan said.

TSN originally reported Keenan's departure as a firing; however, the Panthers released a statement saying Keenan had resigned and been replaced as GM by head coach Jacques Martin, who came to the team with Keenan in May 2004. TSN also reported that the league was informed of discussions between Keenan's advisers and Cohen but never received an official complaint and didn't believe that arbitration was warranted.

"We stayed in touch with both sides and let them know we were available if they needed us," deputy commissioner Bill Daly told TSN. "But this was all about the two parties working out something that was good for both sides. It's exactly the way things should work "

Martin's assumption of both coaching and GM duties is a "permanent" move, and the team is not looking for a new GM or a new coach, team executive Michael Yormark told the Miami Herald.

"I feel well-prepared for this challenge," Martin said. "I've been close friends with Mike for a lot of years and we've worked together for a long time. And this club is in a much better position now than when we came here two years ago."

The Panthers first hired Keenan as coach in December 2001 and then fired him 23 months later after Florida won only 45 of 153 games played with him behind the bench. Keenan returned to the organization in May 2004, part of a two-pronged move that also brought Martin in as coach.

Keenan made some stirring moves in the past year, in which the Panthers -- who haven't won a playoff series since making the Stanley Cup finals in 1996 -- failed to reach the playoffs for the fifth straight season.

Most notably, Keenan opted to trade All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks in June, a move that stunned Luongo -- who thought he was on the cusp of agreeing to a long-term deal with the club.

Instead, Keenan made the swap to acquire forward Todd Bertuzzi, defenseman Bryan Allen and goalie Alex Auld from the Canucks and insisted afterward that it was the best direction for the franchise.

"Mike has done a tremendous job over the past two years in positioning this franchise for immediate and future success. ... He has assembled the most talented team in our franchise's history," Cohen said.

Martin agreed with that assessment and credited Keenan for the job he did in Florida.

"I think Mike did a tremendous job," Martin said. "All our players are signed for this coming season and we signed some free agents that we think will help our hockey club. I don't think it's going to be a distraction. We're very excited about our hockey club and the coming season."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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