Former WHL player and coach Ron Kennedy was honored by the Austrian Erste Bank Hockey League by renaming their League MVP trophy to the ‘Ron Kennedy Trophy’.
Ron Kennedy passed away on July 9, 2009. Most recently he was coaching Innsbruck of the Austrian league when a brain tumour forced him to resign in December 2008.
The North Battleford, Saskatchewan, native played minor-league hockey in North America before he had stints as player in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria.
He started his coaching career with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League in 1988. In 1992, Villach became his first professional team as a coach where he won the Austrian championship in his first year. After two years in Austria, he became an assistant coach of the New York Islanders before he went to Europe again, where he was coaching EC Hannover, Eisbären Berlin and ERC Ingolstadt in the German DEL. Later he coached Villach again and Innsbruck in Austria, and Bolzano in Italy.
During his time in Berlin and Villach, Kennedy was also head coach of the Austrian national team from 1996 to 2002. He took over after the relegation from the top pool in 1996 and brought the team back to the elite nations one year later. During his era, the Austrian national team stayed in the top pool World Championship for five consecutive years, the most successful streak since the 1930s. He also led the team to the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Games.
Kennedy was also head coach of Canada’s Men’s National team in the 2006 Deutschland Cup.
He wasn’t just a successful coach, he was a most likeable person. Helpful, professional, open minded and open-hearted with a talent to talk to players and media and inspiring them with his presence, he lived a life as an example to many of us. That’s why the MVP-trophy will be called “Ron Kennedy trophy” from now on. It will be handed to the winner at the conclusion of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga championship.