Erie 6, Ottawa 5

Brian Kilrea is an Ottawa legend. While signing away one poster after another, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Ottawa 67’s 1999 Memorial Cup-winning squad, the “Killer” spoke about what might be one of his more underrated accomplishments. 

He helped start a union.

“In those days, it was called a player’s association,” said the winningest coach in junior hockey history , explaining there was a strike in professional hockey in 1967, the year, the NHL added six new teams.

Kilrea said he was a spokesman for the association. He also credited Alan Eagleson, who became the first executive director of the union but who was eventually disgraced because he defrauded many of his clients.

“The next year, we went to Los Angeles and started the player’s association,” Kilrea told Capital Current.

Apart from the California Golden Seals, the Minnesota North Stars (today’s Dallas Stars), Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues are still kicking.

And of course, there are still the Los Angeles Kings. Kilrea played for that team, scoring the first goal in franchise history.

Kilrea went back to the minors for the next two and a half years after his debut with the Kings. By that time the union had started. 

Although he wasn’t there to be a part of it, it doesn’t change how he feels about it.

“Well, it was good. I wasn’t there to reap the rewards, but the players of today are.”

His tribute comes at a bittersweet time, when the Ottawa 67’s fell short to the Erie Otters, 6-5.

Ottawa’s Cooper Foster wasn’t even alive when Kilrea coached his 1999 winners. That said, he’s brushed up on his history.

Despite the loss, Ottawa has clinched a playoff spot and stands sixth in the Eastern Conference with 69 points.


Foster scored twice on Sunday.  Photo courtesy of Tim Austen

 “I know about the history, there’s all the pictures on our wall of the winning teams,” he said. “It was really special to have them out on the ice.”

Foster added the opening ceremony gave his team a bit of a jump, but it wasn’t enough.