Monday, February 28, 2011

Ed Kea

This defensive defenseman was born in Weesp, Holland, the only Dutch born player in the NHL to this date. He was the youngest of 14 children and moved to Canada with his parents when he was 4-years old. Ed is Jeff Beukeboom's uncle who is Joe Nieuwendyk's cousin.

Ed was a big (6'3" and 200 Ibs) defenseman who wasn't very fast but who played very well positionally. He played his junior hockey for the Collingwood Kings and was discovered by Fred Creighton who saw him play in the EHL. He then recommended the Atlanta Flames to take a look at Ed. Ed was signed as a free agent by Atlanta on October 6, 1972.

Ed didn't make the team in his first year and was sent down to Omaha Knights (CHL). He continued to play in the CHL the next season as well, although he had a three game stint with Atlanta. When the 1974-75 season began he was a regular with Atlanta. Ed played some steady hockey with the Flames until the 1978-79 season. At that time he was only one of two players on the Atlanta team who remained from the initial Flames training camp in 1972 (together with goalie Dan Bouchard).

Ed was traded to St.Louis together with Don Laurence and a draft pick for Garry Unger. He played four very steady but unspectacular seasons in St.Louis. During the 1982-83 season Ed had decided that he would retire after the season.He got sent down to Salt Lake of the CHL in the mid of the 1982-83 season.

Four weeks from retirement tragedy struck. During a CHL game with Salt Lake against Tulsa Oilers, Ed and two opponents, Mike Backman and George McPhee chased the puck along the boards and converged on the puck at the same time. McPhee threw a devastating, but clean,check on Ed. Ed banged his head into Backman's shoulder and flew backwards. As he went down, his head smashed into the top of the boards and he fell forward face-first onto the ice. By the time the trainer could reach Ed, the defenseman had blood coming out of his ears. He was carted off on a stretcher, hisplaying days had come to an end. Ed needed a life-saving operation and spend two months in the hospital. He eventually recovered after a very long time.

It was a sad ending to the career of this deeply religious man. His head injury caused a lot of debates around the pro hockey leagues when it came to helmets. Ed was not wearing one when the injury happened and a lot of people said that the injury would have been avoided if he had used one. In the end the main thing was that he survived this horrible accident.

Ed played a total of 583 NHL games plus 32 playoff games, scoring 175 points and 6 more in the playoffs.
On August 31, 1999, Ed died at his summer home in Ontario. He had drowned in an accident. He was survived by his wife Jennifer and 4 children.

6 comments:

Anonymous,  April 19, 2012 at 8:44 PM  

I understand because he was in the minors when this happened he had little if any benefits from the NHL. If thats true then shame on the NHL.
I remember seeing him while with Atlanta when they came in to play the Rangers when I had season tickets (before kids).

Anonymous,  June 27, 2012 at 2:32 AM  

in this years draft there's a justin kea is this one of ed's grandson's????????? or no no family at all.

Anonymous,  January 26, 2013 at 4:43 PM  

I believe Ed Kea would be Justin Kea's great uncle.

Graham Clayton February 7, 2015 at 7:52 PM  

A 1983 New York Times article giving some excellent information about Kea's recovery from his accident:

http://www.nytimes.com/1983/11/16/sports/for-ed-kea-now-i-m-fine-but.html

Doug Rice March 30, 2016 at 7:27 PM  

I was there at the game in Salt Lake when Eddie was injured. The check was a hard one, but clean, and I am sure Ed would've had no animosity towards McPhee for the check... It was a perfect storm, where a helmet may or may not have done any good. Eddie was not a stellar player, but a good, solid member of the Salt Lake Golden Eagles. As a high school and college player, I admired Eddie for his tenacity in following his dream.

Christian Inkster May 18, 2016 at 4:19 PM  

The Kea tragedy was an introduction to the consequences of a very dirty little secret about the modern game with regards to "finishing your check". I wonder if, for that second or two that Kea did have the puck, that George McPhee could have slowed down somewhat and not drilled Eddie big time like he did. All the lecturing about helmets and had Eddie been wearing one at the time really did not address this other issue.

Nowadays, when you have ones like Steve Payne suing the NHL over concussions, it does not take much to visualize had McPhee hit someone like Payne instead (who would have been about ten years younger than Kea and wearing headgear), perhaps the immediate, severe injuries may not have taken place but quite possibly Payne would have been knocked out and finished for the night but back in the lineup the next game or the one after and that much more susceptible to concussion related problems from another big "finishing your check" type of hit. Jeremy Roenick recalls his first or second exhibition game as a Chicago Blackhawks rookie in which his coach Mike Keenan yelled and swore at him for apparently failing to "finish a check". It really is not surprising that the league is now in deep legal trouble with this suit, as using helmets as an excuse for the Kea incident diverted attention from the real reason for that event taking place.

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