July 08, 2017

Hockey Heroes: Kevin Dineen

Kevin Dineen has lived in virtually every corner of North America living hockey.

Born in Quebec City during the years when his father was playing for the local AHL team, his only childhood home was the local rink in whatever minor league city his father was located to coach, though he spent much of his childhood in Seattle. After a junior stop in Toronto, a college stop in Denver, barnstorming tours with the Canadian Olympic team and finally the NHL where he is best remembered as the heart of the Hartford Whalers, Dineen is now following his father's footsteps and coaching in the minor leagues.

Not surprisingly, Dineen has had great success, and one would have to think a spot behind a NHL bench isn't far behind. What is his secret to his success? He expects and demands from his players exactly what he brought to the ice when he played - 100% effort.

Dineen was a special player. He thoroughly understood the game of hockey, an obvious coach's son. He was extremely rugged despite average size. He was as fearless as he was tough, working the wall and rolling out of corners with tenacity. He battled NHL warriors much bigger than he, even though he suffered from Crohn's Disease.

But he combined guts and desire with underrated skill. His skating was excellent. His strong legs gave him great acceleration and speed. But he also was blessed with incredible balance and agility on his skates. That talent aided him in the physical game because he would rarely be knocked off the puck, but also in the offensive game with his surprising ability to get open.

Once he was open, usually from a soft pass from the great Ron Francis, he had strong shooting instincts. He practiced religiously to get his shot off quickly. With his shoot first mentality, Dineen scored 355 goals in his career, including a career best 45 in 1988-89.

Best remembered as a Whaler, Dineen scored the last goal in Whaler history and the first goal in Carolina Hurricanes history. But most Whaler/Canes fans will remember his overtime goal in game 6 of the Adams Division Final in 1986 that forced game 7 in a memorable playoff series that was eventually won by Montreal.

Dineen also played a number of years in Ottawa and Columbus, but his favorite non-Hartford/Carolina memories must have come in Philadelphia where he had the opportunity to work under his father, the newly hired coach of the Flyers. He would later captain the team.

Because of his skating and disciplined physical play, Dineen was also a regular with Team Canada. Throughout his career Dineen represented Canada at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games in Sarjevo and again in 1985 at the World Championships where the team won a silver medal. He was also a member of that magical Team Canada that beat the Soviets in the 1987 Canada Cup tournament.

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