This Sunday is a very special game day for the Ottawa 67’s family. Our patriarch, Brian Kilrea, the coach and general manager who spent 32 seasons behind the 67’s bench, will turn 85 years of age on Monday, Oct. 21.
He is the winningest coach in CHL history, the architect of the 67’s two Memorial Cup championships and a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. As a tribute to “Killer” and a testament to his skills, the CHL Trophy for Coach of the Year is named the Brian Kilrea Trophy.
As a player, Kilrea scored the first goal in the history of the LA Kings franchise, but he is probably best-known for his point-a-game AHL career with Springfield, under the ownership of the cantankerous hockey genius, Eddie Shore.
Killer the coach was known as a man who developed not just hockey skills, but life skills. He knew when to give his players a pat on the back or a kick in the pants, and he was an expert at loosening-up a tense room with a quick quip or a few well chosen words of encouragement. In his own words, Killer modestly summed-up coaching this way: “The biggest lesson in coaching is humility. Don’t think you’re bigger than the game. It’s the players who win and the players who lose, so don’t think you’re going to make a big difference. Let the players do their jobs and just encourage them to do it to the best of their abilities.
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