The Florida Panthers and their general manager are not waiting together to see how the 2006-07 NHL season will unfold.
Even after an offseason of major player transactions and renewed playoff hopes, the team announced in a statement Sunday that Mike Keenan has resigned from his front office post and has been replaced by head coach Jacques Martin.
''I can't say that I had looked at being a general manager,'' Martin said. ''Maybe a long-term goal could have been that, but not short term.''
It is not clear what led to the move - made just days before the start of training camp. While the Panthers are publicly saying he has resigned, sources tell TSN that Keenan was actually forced out.
Keenan had three years remaining on his contract with the Panthers and leaves after working parts of four seasons with the club. He was named head coach of the Panthers in December of 2001 and held the post until November of 2003.
He returned to the team as general manager in May of 2004 and immediately made a flurry of changes to improve the club's fortunes. He joined in with Martin - a former Ottawa bench boss who was also his university teammate - and added veteran players to the lineup such as forwards Joe Nieuwendyk, Gary Roberts and Chris Gratton.
The team failed to make the playoffs for a fifth straight season in 2005-06, prompting Keenan to make more dramatic moves over the summer. He swung a blockbuster deal that saw superstar netminder Roberto Luongo go to Vancouver for a package that featured power forward Todd Bertuzzi, and also signed veteran goalie Ed Belfour.
The Panthers were Keenan's seventh NHL team. He began his NHL career as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984, and then led the Chicago Blackhawks behind the bench in 1988, guiding both teams to the Stanley Cup Final.
In 1993-94, he was hired as head coach of New York Rangers and led the franchise to its first Stanley Cup win since 1940. Keenan also served as head coach and GM as the St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks, and Boston Bruins.
Keenan began his coaching career with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League.
Martin spent eight seasons with the Senators before joining Florida and is considered one of the league's top coaches. He won the Jack Adams award as coach of the year in 1998-99 and was runner-up three other times.
Martin says he doesn't see much need for change to the Panthers' roster.
''I don't see any changes,'' Martin said. ''I think we're excited as an organization about this roster. We feel we've improved our hockey club.''
It will be his first general manager job in the NHL.