by Lindsay Kramer || NHL.com
Lindsay Kramer, the AHL correspondent for NHL.com, profiles an up-and-coming player each Monday during the season, and his AHL notebook appears each Thursday on NHL.com.
Manitoba Moose captain Mike Keane offered an interesting commentary earlier this week after watching his son, Jackson, play youth hockey on an off-day during the 2009 Calder Cup Finals.
“I’m not a big believer in spring hockey, but that’s a whole different debate,” Keane said. “When I was a kid, you had hockey and baseball during the summer. It’s a different world now.”
But Mike, don’t you play hockey in the spring? Isn’t that the whole point of the season?
“I get paid to do it,” he said.
He does indeed, at the ripe age of 42, and with very high stakes on the line.
Few careers have had arcs as comfortable as the one that Keane is currently riding. Already the owner of three Stanley Cup rings, he’s looking for a few more drops from the fountain of youth to bring his hometown of Winnipeg its first Calder Cup.
“At this stage of my game, this is why I’m playing. Right now, there is no other reason to play hockey than to win the Calder Cup,” he said. “It will be not only great for our city, but great for our organization. We have a real solid fan base that has been real loyal to us. To play in front of my family and friends is something real special. I get critiqued by everyone I know. It adds the pressure of going out and playing well.”
Then it’s a good thing that Keane is up to the challenge.
As a checking-line forward, he contributed eight goals and 20 assists in 74 regular-season games. In the playoffs he’s gone 4-7-11 in 18 games.
That included two goals and an assist in Game 4 vs. Houston in the Western Conference Finals.
“The team needs goals. You make sure you don’t forget that part of the game,” he said. “I have to feel younger (than his age). Every day I go to the rink, I’m battling against 21-, 22-year-old kids.”
That jousting from early fall well into the following spring only becomes more wearing with the passing seasons, but Keane indicated he’d be willing to re-up for at least one more stretch next year.
“Wanting to go to the rink, wanting to put the training in, that’s still very important,” he said. “Things haven’t changed. I still enjoy playing at a high level. All things being equal, I’d like to play again. I’m living a dream.”