Before he became a Hall of Fame coach and a hockey icon, Brian Kilrea had an illustrious playing career as a forward in the American Hockey League.
Kilrea spent 10 seasons in the AHL, mainly skating for owner Eddie Shore’s Springfield Indians during their hey-day of the 1960’s. His arrival in Springfield in 1959 coincided with the team’s unprecedented (and since-unmatched) run of three consecutive Calder Cup championships. Kilrea did not miss a single regular-season game over four years from 1961 to 1965, and in 1961-62 he led the entire league with 73 assists and established a career high with 93 points in 70 contests for the Indians.
The Ottawa native put together five straight seasons of at least 75 points and hit the 20-goal mark six times. He got his first extended taste of the National Hockey League in 1967-68 with the Los Angeles Kings – scoring the first goal in the expansion franchise’s history – before finishing the season back in Springfield. Kilrea would skate in 33 games for the Rochester Americans in 1968-69 to conclude his AHL career.
A 2003 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Kilrea totaled 624 points in his 623 career AHL games. And in a history of AHL hockey in the city of Springfield that spans eight decades, he is the all-time leader in assists (442) and ranks third in both points (611) and games played (590).