October 05, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Kevin Dineen

Kevin Dineen was a rugged, heart-and-soul winger in a 1200 game NHL career, most notably with the Hartford Whalers.

But before he was a NHL player he dropped out of university to chase the Olympic dream.

He almost never made it to the Sarajevo games in 1984. 

Dineen was a pretty solid prospect, drafted 56th overall by the Whalers in 1982. After two seasons at the University of Denver, he left school to commit to the Canadian national team for the entire season.

However Dineen was actually cut just before the Olympics, but was asked back by the time the tournament began.

In January of 1984, just weeks before the Olympics, Canada ran into serious injury issues. Forward George Servinis has a broken thumb, defenceman Joe Grant a broken collarbone, Robin Bartel a fractured finger, Gord Sherven a sprained knee and Kevin Dineen a dislocated shoulder.

Canada looked to reinforce it's rosters with players on pro contracts. Remember this is back in the day when the crooked IOC insisted the Olympics were for amateurs - at least for non-Soviet Bloc countries. They brought in Mark Morrison, Don Dietrich, Dan Wood and Mario Gosselin.

To make room Dave King cut Dineen and defenseman Warren Anderson.

Other countries waited right until the Olympics to cry foul. Eventually Wood and Gosselin were ruled to be eligible, but Dietrich and Morrison were barred because they had played more than 10 games in the NHL. 

With a sudden new hole in the roster, Dineen and Anderson both returned to the line up.

Dineen would pointless in limited duty in seven games. His most memorable moment would have been a skirmish with feared Soviet defender Viacheslav Fetisov.

"When I look back at my playing career I always consider that one of the best experiences that I had," he said.

After his lengthy and successful NHL career which also saw him play in four world championships and the 1987 Canada Cup, Dineen took up coaching. That journey saw him return to the Olympics as the coach of the Canadian women's team in 2014.

"I told the players that story, about getting cut and how maybe the worst day of my life is knowing that," said Dineen.
"And then, literally on the morning of the opening game it turned into one of the best.

"I was a young guy and that was just a fabulous experience. We made it to the medal round. In saying that, it still has a little sting to it because we went home empty-handed. I feel like there's maybe some unfinished business left."
Dineen settled that business when he guided Canada to it's fourth consecutive gold medal at the women's Olympic tournament. 

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