Rick Kehoe is one of Windsor and Essex County’s greatest-ever hockey exports. He tallied 375 goals, 413 assists, and 788 points in 945 National Hockey League games, most of which were played with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Kehoe went on to spend almost three decades in total with the Penguins organization, including spells as a scout, assistant coach, and eventually head coach.
Born in Windsor on July 15, 1951, Kehoe is a product of Windsor Minor Hockey. He attended Herman Collegiate, where he was an All-City hockey player in 1968 and ’69.
Kehoe, who played Junior hockey with the London Knights and Hamilton Red Wings, was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs 22nd overall in the first round of the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. He went on to spend three productive seasons with Toronto, racking up 59 goals, 72 assists, and 131 points over 186 games.
In 1974, Kehoe was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he played the remaining 11 seasons of his NHL career. In Pittsburgh, Kehoe scored 27 or greater goals in ten straight seasons, highlighted by a 55-goal campaign in 1980-81. He played in NHL All-Star Games in 1981 and 1983.
Kehoe retired from NHL play in 1985. He remains the Penguins’ third-leading scorer, behind only Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr. He totaled 316 goals, 341 assists, and 657 points in 759 games with the Penguins. He also won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s most gentlemanly and sportsmanlike player, in the 1980-81 season, in which he accrued only three points.
Kehoe took a job as Director of Pro Scouting for the Penguins following his retirement. He was named an assistant coach in 1986 and won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and ’92 in the capacity. He remained involved with the Penguins as a scout or assistant until 2002.
Kehoe took over the Penguins’ head coaching job four games into the 2001-02 season. He stayed in the role until after the 2002-03 season, amassing a 55-81-14 record.
He later worked briefly as interim coach for the minor-league Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
“In the NHL he was an outstanding goal-scorer,” recalled John A. Ziegler, past President of the National Hockey League. “He was also a Lady Byng Trophy winner, a very special category of NHL performer who combines pure talent with a demonstrable commitment to fair play among competitors. This is an enduring part of his hockey legacy.”
Kehoe was inducted into the Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Fame in 1992. He currently resides in Pennsylvania.