There's an old adage that goaltenders become commentators after their playing days are over because they can oversee the ice better and anyone. Especially if they are back-ups, but either way-- the adage holds true in this case, as we go into depth about a goalie turned broadcaster turned NHL liege. This week, we'll look at the career of Kay Whitmore.
Whitmore started out with the Sudbury Legionnaires in Junior "A" hockey in Ontario, playing 42 games and posting four shutouts out of those games in the 1982-83 season. For the 1983-84 season, Whitmore went onto major juniors, playing for the Peterborough Petes. He didn't see much times in the first season, only getting in 29 games, but showed off his skill with a 17-8-0 record for the year. Whitmore would see more time as the starter for the Petes in the 1984-85, getting in 53 games with a 35-16-2 record and heading into the OHL Playoffs, but falling to the powerhouse Sault St. Marie Greyhounds in the finals. Even so, Whitmore went 10-4 in his 17 playoff games.
With his great performance, it gave him the ability to be drafted in the second round, 26th overall of the 1985 Draft by the Hartford Whalers. Even with that, Whitmore stayed with the Petes for the 1985-86 season, seeing less time with the emergence of Ron Tugnutt, but Whitmore would still go 27-12-2 in his 41 starts, which was good enough to get OHL First All-Star honors. The combination of Whitmore and Tugnutt got the Petes to the top in the OHL, but they only got as far as the OHL semi-finals before being eliminated. The tandem again would split starts, but Whitmore getting the most out of the two. It was a dismal season for Whitmore, who went 14-17-5 for his 36 games played.
Whitmore would make the jump to the pros in the 1987-88 season with the Binghamton Whalers, playing behind Peter Sidorkiewicz. It was a good start to his pro career, getting 38 games and going 17-15-4. Once Sidorkiewicz went up to Hartford for the 1988-89 season, Whitmore became head man in Binghamton, but had a rough go about it. Whitmore would see 56 games of action, but only went 21-29-4. However, Whitmore was called upon for three games with the Whalers late into seasons, going 2-1-0 in his three regular season games and going 0-2 in his two post-season starts. Whitmore would start off the 1989-90 season in Hartford before going back and forth between Hartford and Binghamton. Yet, his experience in Hartford was much better than the Binghamton. In the nine games in Hartford, Whitmore went 4-2-1, but when in Binghamton-- he had an abysmal 3-19-2 record in 24 games in the AHL, which was to no fault of Whitmore-- as the B-Whale only had 11 wins on the season. Whitmore would again be between Hartford and the AHL, but the Whalers moved their affiliate to Springfield. It was a much better year in the AHL for Whitmore, who went 22-9-1 in his 33 games down on the farm, yet when called upon in the NHL, Whitmore went 3-9-3. During the 1991 playoffs in the AHL, Whitmore was amazing, going 11-4 in his 15 games played and helped the Indians win the Calder Cup, as well as getting Playoff MVP honors along with it.
The 1991-92 season saw some better fortune for Whitmore, as he stayed in Hartford for the whole season, getting the starting role from Sidorkiewicz, even if his record didn't seem like a big deal. 45 games Whitmore would play, he went 14-21-6 for the season.
Even though his ups and downs, Whitmore would be pushed out due to the logjam coming from the minors. Whitmore would be traded before the start of the 1992-93 season to Vancouver for Corie D'Alessio and cash money. Whitmore would be behind Kirk McLean for most of that season, but saw a 31 games and put up an 18-8-4 record and helped the Canucks win the Smythe Division title. The next season, Whitmore got one more game in at 32 and still have 18 wins, but also 14 defeats and no ties. While he never got into the playoffs, he was along for the ride where the Canucks came up one goal short of a Stanley Cup title in the 1994 playoffs. Whitmore would have one last season with Vancouver during the shortened 1994-95 season, seeing 11 games and going 0-6-2 in those games.
The 1995-96 saw Whitmore go throughout the minors, as the Canucks sent him down to the farm. Whitmore played in the IHL for the Detroit Vipers (3-5-0 in 10 games) and the Long Beach Ice Dogs (10-9-7 in 30 games) before heading to the Syracuse Crunch in the AHL (6-4-1 in 11 games). Whitmore would then be traded to the New York Rangers in March of 1996 for Joey Kocur, but he would never see time on Broadway, heading back to Binghamton for the Binghamton Rangers, but only saw two games of playoff time, losing both games. With no teams interested in him for the 1996-97, Whitmore went over to play in Sweden for Sodertalje SK and saw 26 games, but no record can be found....or that I could find.
Whitmore would come back to North America, as the San Jose Sharks signed him as a free agent, but Whitmore would once again be IHL bound and back again with the Long Beach Ice Dogs for the 1997-98 season. Whitmore would see 48 games in the LBC, getting to winning form going 28-12-3. Whitmore had a 2.60 GAA, which was enough to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy for lowest GAA in the IHL, a title he shared with Mike Buzak.
It was a wild summer of 1998, with the Sharks traded Whitmore, as well as a second and fifth round pick to the Buffalo Sabres for Steve Shields and a fourth round pick. Whitmore then became a free agent, where he again signed with the New York Rangers. Yet, the 1998-99 season would see Whitmore in the minors, with both the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL (8-8-2 in 18 games) and the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL (10-6-4 in 22 games).
Whitmore would then sign with the Boston Bruins in the summer of 1999, but would spend the majority of the 1999-2000 season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Even when he was traded to the Edmonton Oilers in December of 1999, Whitmore stayed in Providence. In 43 games that year, Whitmore went 17-19-3 for the year. Whitmore started off again in Providence for the 2000-01 season (13-8-2 in 26 games) , but was trade from the Oilers to the Bruins in December of 2000. He played five games in Boston, but went 1-2-0 in those games.
Whitmore would make one more kick in the can in North America, signing with the Calgary Flames in the summer of 2001, but was again sent to the minors for the Saint John Flames. In 36 games, Whitmore had a 10-16-8 record and actually got the call from Calgary for one games, losing it against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Whitmore would then become the goalie coach of the Peterborough Petes from 2002 until 2004, but would come out of retirement for three playoff games with the Nuremberg Tigers of the German League in the 2005 playoffs. Following his un-retirement, he retired again and went on to be an analyst for the NHL Network and Versus. After a three year stint, Whitmore became a goalie consultant for the NHL in terms of pad size and what-not.
Whitmore had plenty of ups and downs during his career, but kept at it hoping for one more shot at the big time. Of course, it's all about spirit and it seemed Whitmore had plenty of that, even with all the craptastic times he had with it.