This past Saturday I attended the funeral of Stephen David Kinch, otherwise known as ‘Kinchy. I attended with a heavy heart as I knew him personally but only a small part of what he truly was. I knew Steve mostly from the restaurant business and knew little of his sport life and interests. All the missing years I never knew Steve were filled in by his family and old friends confirming my already formed opinion of Steve; he was a great man.
Kinchy was best known as the best bartender in Halifax. He worked at many a bar with a smile making each person he came across feel welcomed. This seems a bit cliché but unless you experienced his hospitality you didn’t get a taste of what he was about. He loved people and it showed every time he spoke to you. ‘Kinchy’s Corner’ was always my destination for either complete silence and reflection or laughing so hard your sides hurt.
I knew Kinchy played hockey and I did get to play with him a few years back in a rec tournament. He was smooth, fast, knew where his teammates were and was a thorn in the side of the opponents. I loved feeding him the puck and watching him go. I wondered what the big deal was in the dressing room when he was talking about his skates being $200 more than mine. Once I saw him play, I knew he needed good skates to do the things he did on the ice. Simply put, he was awesome and this was in a time when us men were past our prime. I knew there had to be a background and pedigree that I didn’t know about and this past weekend I discovered that history.
During the funeral Father spoke of a chat he had with one of Steve’s family members. He said Kinchy was “quick tempered” but then changed his story with a coy smile and said “Steve was passionate” while playing hockey. Each person I spoke to said that he was the best teammate to have as he was an offensive player but also quick to help and defend you. That to me is the ultimate teammate. He scored tons of goals and had lots of articles written about him for his heroics but to me his heroism was showing the same passion on the ice as he did for everyday life. “Go big or go home” or “Give it a 110%” are a couple of common interview statements that actually apply to Steve and his life. He left the arenas satisfied and woke up ready to apply that same mantra to life.
I discovered not only the teams he played for but more importantly, I found out how much Kinchy loved sports but mostly hockey. I got to speak with his true teammates and friends about his Pee Wee hockey through to his Senior hockey years here in Dartmouth. The teams he played for are not significant to me and certainly were not to anyone this past weekend. What caught my ear and made everyone else take notice was the passion he had for the game. Story after story was about how he cared about winning and his teammates. Each story had the same message that Kinchy was intense and his teammates loved it. I knew Kinchy was fiery but didn’t realize he was this in love with hockey. Year after year Kinchy loved to play and never changed his way. What made me smile was the happiness he had while playing because isn’t that why we play? We play to have fun and to satisfy our need for competition. I get Kinchy’s desire and it makes me closer to him knowing he spent all those years in cold arenas with that desire and enjoyment to play. People should know he was a local legend in the sport and he that he deserves to be mentioned in local hockey circles.
Stephen Kinch made so many people happy. My eyes are wide open about how he was such a hard worker at sports and life. It’s true, people do touch us from beyond. They hopefully make us better and stronger and lend us strength to adjust and move on. I certainly took that away from this past weekend as shared grief and shared stories have helped me understand his loss. I had a small glimpse into his life and it was a positive view. After this tragic event and meeting his sport family and his actual family, I am very proud to say I was graced knowing a great athlete and man.
God Rest Your Soul Kinchy. Thank you for letting us be your friend.