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Backchecking: Tim Kerr

Tim Kerr will always be remembered by fans of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Tim Kerr will always be remembered by fans of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

BY MARC GIRARD

Most Philadelphia hockey fans can tell you who Tim Kerr is: former Flyers right winger, Masterton Trophy winner, four-time 50-goal scorer and the man who scored 14 goals in 19 playoff games in 1989. Now that he has stepped away from the game, Kerr has added realtor and philanthropist to his repertoire, but has not lost his love of hockey.

Kerr enjoyed a successful albeit slow-to-start career. He played three seasons with the Ontario League’s Kingston Canadiens, but was passed over in the NHL draft before signing as a free agent with Philadelphia in 1979. He went on to play 13 seasons with the Flyers, New York Rangers and Hartford Whalers.

The Windsor, Ont., native posted 370 goals and 674 points in 655 games and developed a reputation as an immoveable object in front of opposing goalies.

But shoulder and knee problems plagued Kerr during his career.

“Even though I missed a lot of time with injuries, I would not change a thing,” said the 51-year-old Kerr, who now lives in Avalon, N.J., with his wife and five children. “I enjoyed the challenge every day to try and make a difference and play on teams that were successful teams.”

The Flyers in the 1980s were good and Kerr didn’t miss the playoffs until the 1989-90 season. Philadelphia won four Patrick Division titles during the decade and lost to the juggernaut Edmonton Oilers in the 1985 and ’87 Stanley Cup finals.

Kerr enjoyed his time in Philadelphia and it came as a complete shock when the San Jose Sharks claimed him up in the 1991 expansion draft then promptly traded him to the New York Rangers for Brian Mullen.

“That was a very difficult time in my life,” Kerr said. “I truly believe they did not think anybody was going to pick me up, but things did change that day. As soon as the draft happened, (team president) Jay Snider called and apologized and said he was sorry that it transpired the way it did.”

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Kerr played in three All-Star Games and along the way racked up the stats. His Flyers records include most 50-goal seasons (four), most power play goals (34) and hat tricks in a season (five). Kerr also owns the NHL record with three power play goals in one period.

For Kerr, the game of his career took place April 13, 1985. That was the day he scored four times in a 6-5 win at Madison Square Garden to eliminate the New York Rangers from the playoffs.

“It was one of those nights where things all fell in place and the puck was going in the net for me,” Kerr said. “They had got the better of us the last few years before that, so it was a big thing back to do that in their building and eliminate them.”

In 1989, Kerr founded Tim Kerr Charities, which helps children with physical and mental disabilities by raising funds through with events such as triathlons, duathlons, marathons and swimming events.

“I started this to give back and it truly has been a family project,” Kerr said. “My wife puts a lot of time and energy in to make all of our events successful and all the money we raise goes to children’s charities.”

Kerr has found a way to stay involved in the game he loves. He owns two teams in the Southern Pro League, the Pensacola Ice Flyers and the Mississippi Surge. In the league since 2009-10, Mississippi has all ready won two regular season titles and captured its first SPHL championship this past season.

As for NHL hockey and which team he roots for, Kerr doesn’t mince words:

“I will always by a Flyers fan.”

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