Kevin Klein was a rugged, throwback defender. He was tough to play against, particularly in front of the net in an era where obstruction rules forced defensemen to change the way they defended there.
Yet, time and again, Klein showed a surprising ability to join the rush and he had a heavy shot from the point. He was an excellent third-pairing depth defenseman with Nashville and the New York Rangers, known for shutting down attackers, blocking shots and dependably eating minutes when the stars needed a break.
The native of Kitchener, Ontario was drafted by the Predators 37th overall back in 2003. His hard working style was appreciated by hockey fans in Tennessee, as was his famed mohawk haircut and Optimus Klein nickname. He definitely made an impact in the NHL, both literally and figuratively.
He joined the Rangers in a trade for Michael Del Zotto in 2013 and was a strong part of the Rangers run to the 2014 Stanley Cup final
He was never the same after his left arm was badly broken after getting hit with a puck wired by Alex Ovechkin late in the 2015 season. Back injuries plagued him early in the 2016-17 season, though he finished much of the year as a healthy scratch.
In 627 career NHL games Kevin Klein quietly scored 38 goals and 154 points in a 12 year career. 10 of his 38 goals were game winners, including 8 in his first two seasons with the Rangers.
There is some thought that Klein may resurface in the 2017-18 season with a European club team.