Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blast from the Past: Pat Kavanagh

For that handful of people familiar with the Manitoba Moose’s 15-year history, Pat Kavanagh’s name will not stand out as one of the best players the franchise has ever had. However, he may go down as one of the most memorable figures in club history, not for anything he did on the ice, but for his small, yet fanatically devoted legion of female followers.

Property of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, Kavanagh came to the Moose when the Canucks transferred their affiliation from Kansas City. Originally drafted by the Flyers in the second round of the 1997 draft, Kavanagh was entering his third pro season, having yet to play his first NHL regular season game.

Kavanagh would score 51 goals in three full seasons with the Moose, earning little more than a cup of coffee with the Canucks. Though he failed to impress Canucks’ management, he did impress females young and old.

His long, flowing hair sent hearts a-flutter in the stands and in online forums. “Kavy” became the favored object of affection of groupies in and out of Winnipeg. Never mind that he couldn’t play. “He works so hard,” was a familiar refrain. True as it might have been, he was little more than a marginal player, even at the AHL level.

Brandon Reid, "Kavy", and admirers 

A group of women would regularly be among the first to arrive at the Arena to take their place along the glass for when “Kavy” would come out for the warmup. Sometimes they would bring signs, other times, they would press themselves up against the glass. There was a time when one of them turned her sweater around so that the “KAVANAGH 15” on the back would be facing to the front.

 Score 1 4 Us!

With the Winnipeg Arena virtually empty most nights, they certainly stood out and, no doubt, “Kavy” had fun with them. He’d make sure to swing by their way at least once, flicking his locks and nearly causing these women to faint.

Once the games started, the Moose turned in their fair share of stinkers and those women provided more entertainment than the game itself. It must have been a dark day for them when Kavanagh signed as a free agent with the Senators organization during the summer of 2004.

Kavanagh eventually got into eight more NHL games after leaving the Moose, but he never had the kind of success the Flyers or Canucks envisioned from him. Nonetheless, for some fans in Winnipeg, his career is more noted for broken hearts than for unrealized expectations.

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