Gulls Top Performers: Kevin Dineen

Gulls Top Performers: Kevin Dineen

Dec 18, 2020

By Joe Spurrier/

Kevin Dineen entered his first year as the San Diego Gulls head coach looking to continue the success the club enjoyed in its first four seasons as a top team in the American Hockey League’s Pacific Division.

Despite the 2019-20 season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dineen filled that role quite nicely, guiding the club to a 30-19-6-2 record, good for 68 points and a tie for third place within the division. 

The Gulls concluded the abbreviated season with points in 22 of their final 26 games (18-4-4-0) and seemed to be one of the league’s most competitive teams heading into the postseason.

“It was an exciting time for us and we really felt like we were trending in the right direction,” added Dineen. “Heading into the playoffs, we would’ve been a formidable opponent for whoever we faced.”

Named to his post on July 15, 2019, Dineen’s first season was highlighted by several bounce-back moments, including the club rebounding from an uncharacteristic start of six straight defeats followed by wins in seven of its next eight games.

“It was a tough start,” said Dineen when reflecting on his first year. “You go 0-6 and it’s like, ‘Yikes, what did I get myself into?’ Really, I take a lot of responsibility for the way our team started. As the season wore on, I think we really found a formula that was working for our team.”

This past season wasn’t Dineen’s first with the Anaheim Ducks organization. He previously served as head coach of Anaheim’s primary development affiliate with the Portland Pirates from 2005-08. Under his leadership, Dineen coached notable Ducks prospects Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Chris Kunitz, Dustin Penner, Ladislav Smid and P.A. Parenteau.

Dineen also led the Pirates to a 135-76-29 record (.623%) with two trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2005 and 2008. He earned the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's outstanding coach in 2005-06.

Dineen also made history in his first season behind the bench in San Diego. After former coach Dallas Eakins passed Dineen as the winningest head coach of an Anaheim Ducks primary affiliate during the 2018-19 season, the Gulls' current coach reclaimed that title on Feb. 5, 2020 at San Jose, passing Eakins for the organization’s all-time win record.

Dineen leads Anaheim’s primary affiliate head coach’s in all-time wins (165), points (367) and points percentage (.618%), while ranking second in games coached (297).

Prior to his current role, Dineen served as head coach of the Florida Panthers from 2011-13, guiding the club to a 56-62-28 record, including its first Southeast Division title in 2011-12. Following his time with Florida, Dineen became an assistant coach for the Chicago Blackhawks from 2014-18, helping lead the club to a Stanley Cup championship in 2015.

A former NHL player himself, Dineen accumulated plenty of hockey experience on the ice as well as behind the bench. Selected by the Hartford Whalers in the third round (56th overall) of the 1982 NHL Draft, Dineen played in 19 NHL seasons from 1984-2003, recording 355-405=760 points and 2,229 penalty minutes (PIM) in 1,188 career games with Hartford, Philadelphia, Carolina, Ottawa and Columbus.

He is one of eight NHL players to record more than 300 goals and 2,000 PIM. Dineen also appeared in 59 career Stanley Cup Playoff games with Hartford, Philadelphia and Carolina, collecting 23-18=41 points. He also served as team captain while playing for Philadelphia, Hartford and Carolina.

Dineen’s experience and success at both the NHL and AHL level as both a coach and player played a major role in leading him to his current role with the Gulls. He knows how to win, emphasizing player developing players with a desire to win at all levels of the game.

“One of the things that we believe in as an organization is the development of players,” said Gulls General Manager Bob Ferguson in a press conference following Dineen’s hire. “One of the things we believe in is when we’re developing players, we not only want to develop them to play in the NHL, we want to develop them to win in the NHL. A lot of teams just say, ‘We’ll work hard on getting them to the NHL,’ but we want our players to learn how to win in the NHL. We feel that with the hiring of Kevin, that’s what we have.”

Dineen, and all Gulls fans, can only look back and imagine what could’ve been this past season if it wasn’t cut short. However, Dineen will look to pick up where he left off as the upcoming season approaches. He’ll continue the emphasis on developing players to be the best they can be – developing them to win.

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