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Mike Keenan to coach Italy men’s hockey team at 2026 Winter Olympics

Mike Keenan

*TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY GABRIELLE TETRAULT-FARBER* Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s Canadian head coach Mike Keenan reacts during the regular Russian open Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) match against CSKA in Moscow on September 11, 2015. Mike Keenan, 65, Nicknamed “Iron Mike” for his iron-fisted coaching style and temper tantrums, arrived in 2013 in Magnitogorsk, a steel city of 400,000 east of Russia’s Ural Mountains, after having coached eight different NHL teams during 20 seasons, led Metallurg Magnitogorsk to its first Gagarin Cup, making him the only coach to have won trophies in both the NHL and KHL, the world’s top two leagues. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Mike Keenan was named coach of the Italy men’s ice hockey team on Friday, giving the Stanley Cup winner a chance to guide the host country at the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics.

Keenan, who will be 76 in 2026, last coached China-based Kunlun Red Star in the KHL in 2017.

“I’ve had a lot of great international experiences but this is both a challenge and a unique opportunity for me,” Keenan said. “I’m excited to be involved in a building and development process in the run up to an Olympics. . . . Every once in a while, miracles happen. Italy is a nation passionate about sports so that’s why I want to set high expectations.”

Keenan coached the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994 and also won the KHL at Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2014.

Italy finished 11th in the 12-team tournament at the 2006 Torino Games when it also qualified as host. That was the team’s previous participation at the Olympics.

After finishing last in its group at the world championship in May, Italy was relegated to the Division I worlds for next year.

Greg Ireland, Italy’s previous coach, left to lead Kunlun Red Star.

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