WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Kevin Dineen’s work ethic as a player was apparently a great one. It was certainly something Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice noticed when he coached Dineen for the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes.
Maurice talked of Dineen, the Blackhawks’ assistant coach, following Thursday morning’s skates. Maurice said Dineen brought a workmanlike mentality that, according to Maurice, was sorely lacking with the Whalers at that time.
“He was the first guy who had an NHL work ethic,” said Maurice of Dineen, who started his second stint with Hartford in December of 1995, when he was traded there from Philadelphia. “So I’m brand new, I didn’t know what to expect, the only thing I kept thinking early on in Hartford was, ‘My junior team worked way harder than these guys did.’ And Kevin came in and he practiced like what I thought an NHL guy would practice like.”
Maurice said the Whalers had other players who worked hard but those teams were not good. The attitude and work ethic of Dineen, who served as captain from 1996-98, left their mark. Maurice said it wasn’t long after that the Whalers/soon-to-be Hurricanes started making the necessary changes – aka, bringing in Dineen-type players.
“All of a sudden those guys became a priority for [general manager] Jim Rutherford," Maurice said. "Gary Roberts came in. Ronnie Francis, Marty Gélinas, Roddy Brind’Amour. We had a hole for those kind of guys and he was the first guy that came in. Kevin left that impression, that’s what one of those guys is really like, one of those high-end workers, high-end character, captain guys.”
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The personnel changes led to positive results on the ice, even after Dineen’s time with the franchise ended. Over the next four seasons the Hurricanes finished third or better – including first twice – in the Southeast Conference.
“We went to four consecutive winning seasons which, again in Chicago, you’re not getting excited about that,” Maurice said. “But at that time for the Whale, nobody had done that before. And he was a huge part of that.”