Hockey

Kevin Dineen confirms retirement

Kevin Dineen quietly called it a career on Tuesday.

Dineen, who turned 39 on Oct. 28, confirmed Tuesday what he earlier told the Columbus Blue Jackets -- that Sunday's 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres was his final NHL contest.

"I told my teammates that I was retiring before the game," he admitted. "We were down 2-0 and came back to win 3-2.

"It seemed appropriate to me, a real solid finish to it all...I was in and out of the lineup and I started thinking to myself that, when you measure that against the whole of my career, the timing was right.

"What I did is that I sat back and kept thinking about it. I called some former teammates who weren't playing any more.

"I was just kind of tossing it around and came to the conclusion that now was a good time."

Dineen posted 355 goals and 405 assists for 760 points with 2,229 penalty minutes in 1,118 games over 19 NHL seasons with the Hartford Whalers (twice), Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, Ottawa Senators and Blue Jackets.

"The goals came from just being fortunate enough to have skated with some great playmakers over all these years," Dineen said. "I had a chance to play with Ronnie Francis and, honest to God, so many of those goals were just easy tap-ins.

"It was the same with Roddy Brind'Amour. As long as I could get open, he'd find me with the puck.

"That's definitely the key to the number of goals. I know I didn't do it by myself."

Dineen, a gritty yet gentlemanly winger, is just one of eight NHLers with 300 goals and 2,000 penalty minutes, joining Mike Foligno, Dale Hunter, Scott Mellanby, Gary Roberts, Brendan Shanahan, Rick Tocchet and Pat Verbeek.

"The penalty minutes, I guess, added up pretty quickly early in my career because I knew that I played my best hockey with a bit of an edge to it," Dineen explained. "I think the numbers are just a result of having a desire to play this game for so long."

Dineen was drafted in the third round -- 56th overall -- in 1982 and debuted for the Whalers against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 3, 1984.

The Quebec City native departs the NHL some 18 years later, having made an impact with his robust play.

"Kevin was a model for young players," Blue Jackets head coach Dave King said. "He defined what it was to be a professional.

"He loved and respected the game and everyone could see it. The fire never went out."

Asked what he relished most, Dineen responded: "I guess more than anything, to be able to play the game a certain way and have people able appreciate it. To have them say, 'That guy plays with a lot of emotion and passion.'

"To have a lot people recognize that, people you don't even know, I think I received a lot of satisfaction from that."

Dineen retires a two-time all-star (1988, 1989) and three-time Masterton Trophy finalist (1995, 2001, 2002).

He also represented Canada at the 1984 Olympics, 1987 Canada Cup and three World Hockey Championships (1985, 1989, 1993).

"I just look at the era I played in and the guys that I started out against -- the Larry Robinsons, the Bryan Trottiers and the Guy Lafleurs," Dineen mused. "And then going at it with Ray Bourque and Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux and then also the power forwards like Eric Lindros, Mark Messier and Cam Neely.

"It was a pretty cool time. You look back and say, 'You know what? Those were some pretty amazing hockey players.'"

Observed King: "I coached Kevin when he was 19 and you could see then his enthusiasm and absolute love for the game. Coaching him again at 39, he hadn't changed a bit."

"Those are the qualities Kevin exhibited throughout his career. He had those intangibles in that he played so hard every night, with great intensity and a love of the game.

"Those are things that not every player has and are part of what made him special."

Dineen is a member of one of hockey's most respected families.

His brothers, Gord and Peter, both played in the NHL.

And his father, Bill, won two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings (1954, 1955) and later became an NHL scout, coach and administrator.

Dineen himself is joining the Blue Jackets front office.

"I feel extremely lucky to have been able to play in the National Hockey League as long as I have and to have been able to play with and for so many quality people," he said. "Being able go out on my own terms, winning in front of our home fans in Columbus and playing with old buddies is truly satisfying.

"Change is always a little scary, especially when you've used your body for so long and now have to use your brain. But I look forward to the new challenges and opportunities that lie ahead."

"Kevin Dineen has played the game of hockey with tremendous passion, determination and courage throughout his career and has been a great ambassador for the National Hockey League for 19 years," Blue Jackets president and general manager Doug MacLean added.

"He has provided valuable leadership and been a consummate professional on our hockey club the past three years and I'm proud that he will remain a member of the Blue Jackets organization."