Top News

Former Canadiens doctor Douglas Kinnear dies peacefully at age 92

 Dr. Douglas Kinnear in the Montreal Canadiens team clinic at what was then named the Molson Centre on June 1, 1999.
Dr. Douglas Kinnear in the Montreal Canadiens team clinic at what was then named the Molson Centre on June 1, 1999. - Dave Sidaway/Postmedia

Dr. Douglas Kinnear, who was the Canadiens’ team physician from 1962 to 1999, died peacefully Saturday at age 92.

In 1999, Kinnear was honoured during a ceremony at the Molson Centre for “his exemplary contribution to medicine, sport and community.” Ahead of that event, Kinnear spoke with the late Red Fisher for a story in the Montreal Gazette and recalled that Claude Pronovost was his first Canadiens patient. The forward suffered a bad cut on his forehead during a game and headed to the team clinic at the Forum, where Kinnear and team physiotherapist Bill Head were waiting.

“Where’s the freezing?” Kinnear asked.

Head shook his head.

“Where’s the gloves?”

The physiotherapist shook his head again.

“Well, at least I’d like to wash my hands,” Kinnear grunted.

Kinnear stitched Provost up and told him: “Claude, you’d better go next door and rest for a little while.”

“Thanks, doc,” Provost said.

“Out the corridor, back on the ice,” Kinnear recalled during his 1999 interview with Fisher. “That was my introduction to hockey. They’re a different breed. I learned quickly on the job.”

Kinnear was born and raised in Quebec City and studied science and medicine at McGill University before completing a two-year fellowship in gastroenterology at Boston City Hospital. He later established the first gastroenterology division in Canada at the Montreal General Hospital. He was a founding member of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology, chairman of the Examining Board of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada and Quebec governor for the American College of Physicians. He also served as associate dean of admissions in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill.

As the Canadiens’ doctor, Kinnear learned quickly which players could play with pain and which couldn’t.

“Bob Gainey was phenomenal,” Kinnear told Fisher. “We’re in Quebec City (in the 1984 playoffs), and Bob dislocated his shoulder. It came right out of the socket. We tried to reduce it in the clinic and I was just about to give up, get him to the hospital and have it put back in under anesthesia, when all of a sudden it popped back in.”

Kinnear told Gainey he was done for the rest of the playoffs.

“You’ve dislocated your shoulder, which means you’ve got a tear in the capsule of the shoulder. It will come out again,” Kinnear said.

“Well, if it comes out again, it comes out again,” Gainey said. “I want to play.”

“OK,” Kinnear said,” as long as you know what might happen.”

Two days later, the Canadiens started their Stanley Cup semifinal series against the New York Islanders and Gainey played all six games with one shoulder separated and the other dislocated. The Islanders won in six games.

“He went out and played two days after that. Amazing!” Kinnear recalled.

“Hockey is a remarkable sport,” Kinnear added. “There are extremely few bad apples in hockey — very few. It’s why I like the game. I’ve been blessed to look after the Montreal Canadiens for almost four decades.”

Kinnear worked with 11 Canadiens coaches — starting with Toe Blake and ending with Alain Vigneault — and watched the team win 12 Stanley Cups. He ranked Gainey and Jean Béliveau among his favourite players and added that working for the Canadiens wasn’t about the money.

“It’s the love of the game,” he told Fisher. “It’s the players. I spent every Saturday night at the Montreal Forum, so my friends quickly learned you don’t invite the Kinnears out on a Saturday night: he’s at the Forum.”

A funeral service for Kinnear will be held at Montreal’s Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul (3415 Redpath St.) at 11 a.m. on Friday.

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

Recent Stories