July 6, 2009

NLL: Edmonton Jumps on Jax's Keenan

from press release

The Edmonton Rush have announced that former National Lacrosse League General Manager and Coach of the Year Derek Keenan has joined the club.

Keenan will hold down the dual role of GM and Head Coach with the Rush, a position he is looking forward to filling.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for me," noted Keenan. "I think Edmonton is one of the top pro sports markets in North America and I believe the Rush are already a big part of the market and the community."

Keenan joins the Rush following an outstanding tenure with the Portland LumberJax. In only four seasons at the helm of the Jax, he guided them to the NLL Champion's Cup in 2008 and to a West Division title in 2006 becoming the first expansion team in league history to win a division crown in its inaugural season. Keenan was named the league's top GM and Head Coach for his accomplishments during the '06 campaign.

The Oshawa, ON, native is eager to bring his winning ways to the Rush who are searching for their first playoff berth in franchise history.

"In order to take the team to the next level, a few personnel changes will be needed and we will need to address some style of play issues, particularly our transition play," said Keenan. "I will go at this job with great passion and a strong commitment to bringing the Rush to the top of the NLL. It will be a challenge but one I am more than ready to take on."

Keenan's credentials and coaching style made him the clear-cut choice for the Rush.

"We are extremely delighted to have Derek on board and expect that he will get the team going in the right direction very quickly," said Gord Sawyer, President of the Rush.

"Our goal is to make the playoffs and put forth a winning and exciting product - the kind of team the City of Champions deserves and that our loyal fans have been waiting for."

Prior to the joining Portland, Keenan was the GM and Head Coach of the Anaheim Storm for the 2005 season. His coaching career began in 1999 as a player-coach with the Toronto Rock and he was part of the team which captured the Champion's Cup that season. For the next four seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Rock as well as the club's interim GM during 2003-04. In total, Keenan was part of Rock teams that captured NLL titles in 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Keenan played at Ithaca College in New York where he was a three-time NCAA All-American and would eventually be inducted into the Ithaca College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. In the pro ranks, Keenan was named NLL Rookie of the Year in 1992 and an All-Pro in 1992 and 1993 as a member of the Buffalo Bandits.

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