This is not quite Brian Kilrea’s last week as head coach of the Ottawa 67’s.
After more than 30 seasons, Sunday will mark his last regular season game behind the 67’s bench.
But with the playoffs still ahead, Kilrea, a.k.a Killer, could still add to his three Ontario Hockey Championships, his pair of Memorial Cup wins, and pad his lead for the most coaching wins in CHL history.?
“Luckily, there is a few more to be coached,” he said. “Whether we last a series, two, three or four, we do know that there are some games ahead.”
Despite announcing his retirement last September, Kilrea said the season has not felt much different than other years.?
“Hockey’s hockey. When you get to the rink, the only thing you’re thinking about is the game itself,” he said. “Once the presentation’s over, the game starts and you forget all about it.”?
Kilrea said that just being able to coach for so long in his hometown is a highlight of a coaching career stretching back to 1974, capped when the 67’s won the 1999 Memorial Cup in Ottawa. “Being born here in Ottawa and having the opportunity to win the Memorial Cup in your hometown — that was special,” he said.
The Hall of Fame coach will be staying in his role as general manager to help as Chris Byrne takes over the head coach position.
To commemorate his last season, the Ontario Hockey League donated funds to create the Brian Kilrea Teaching Room at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, in order that children in long-term care can be taught by teachers and not fall behind in their school work.
Though he’ll miss the camaraderie with the kids, and getting out on the ice, Kilrea said he won’t miss those weekend road trips.
“Monday’s a recovery day after those three- and four- day road trips,” he said. “It takes a little bit out of you, especially as you get older, to be on the road Wednesday to Sunday.”