Kevin O'Shea played with the Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues in three NHL seasons.
By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
January 30, 2010
Kevin O’Shea was a hard-nosed forward who scored one of the most dramatic goals in the history of the St. Louis Blues.
The overtime goal in Game 7 of a 1972 Stanley Cup quarterfinal series earned the rugged checker a place in the lore of the Blues.
The excitement of the moment was captured by the call of play-by-play announcer Dan Kelly, which has been rebroadcast over the years in St. Louis.
“(Larry) Hornung breaks the rush up,” Mr. Kelly called, “to Terry Crisp at centre, to Danny O’Shea, to Kevin O’Shea. Moving in. A shot! He scores! The puck is in the net. the red light now comes on, and St. Louis wins the game and the series.”
By firing the puck past Cesare Maniago for a 2-1 victory, Mr. O’Shea eliminated the Minnesota North Stars. His own team was then steamrolled by the Boston Bruins, who swept the series in four games before going on to win Stanley Cup.
The overtime drama was the highlight of a hockey career that included three seasons in the National Hockey League.
“The goals were few and far between,” Mr. O’Shea told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1989.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound right winger skated for Canada’s national hockey team in 1968-69, gaining a reputation as a ruffian for a game during the world championships in which he flattened a Swede behind the goal and then did the same to another hapless player on his way to the penalty box.
His rugged play earned him a spot on the roster of the expansion Buffalo Sabres in their inaugural season, during which coach Punch Imlach preferred to use him in games against the Big Bad Bruins.
Mr. O’Shea also played a season with the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the World Hockey Association, a short-lived rival to the NHL. His older brother, Danny, with whom he had played in St. Louis, also skated with the Fighting Saints.
In three NHL seasons, he scored 13 goals and added 18 assist in 134 games. He scored two goals in 12 playoff games.
He also played minor professional hockey for the Denver Spurs, the San Diego Gulls, and the Phoenix Roadrunners. He completed his career by spending a season in Sweden with the Timra Red Eagles. One of his teammates was a teenaged Mats Naslund, a future NHL star. Of course, Mr. O’Shea led the Swedish league in penalty minutes.
After leaving hockey, Mr. O’Shea studied law at the University of Windsor. He established an office in Stouffville, Ont., specializing in labour law. His name was touted as a possible replacement for the disgraced Alan Eagleson as head of the NHL Players Association. The position was eventually filled by Bob Goodenow.
Kevin William O’Shea was born on May 28, 1947, at Toronto. He died of heart failure on Jan. 18. He was 62. He leaves three children.