Saturday, February 20, 2010
Posted by Craig Kanalley on 2/20/2010
I never met him, but I've heard so many stories.
My grandfather Kenneth Wallace Kanalley died of a massive heartattack 30 years ago to the day on Feb. 20, 1980. He was 47 years old.
He lived his whole life in Buffalo, New York, besides being stationed overseas with the Marines during the Korean War. He loved the outdoors - fishing, hunting, scuba diving. He loved ice hockey, not a surprise considering his Canadian roots (both of his parents grew up in Ontario and all four of his grandparents were born in Canada).
Back in the day, he played hockey with Pierre Pilote before Pilote went on to an outstanding NHL career and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.
He was a "jokester" and a "prankster," He was a very hardworker, spending time as a maintenance man and steeple jack. He loved his family, three kids, and he loved my grandmother Rita, pictured above on their wedding day.
Today, 30 years after his death, our family remembers him, and I wanted to pay tribute to his life.
Today was a special day for my family for another reason. My sister, Melissa Kanalley, scored a career-high 34 points in Pittsburgh today to eclipse 1,000 points for her college basketball career at D'Youville College. It was her second-to-last ever game and she needed 30 points to hit the mark. What a way to do it. We know Grandpa K. was watching.
And it's a special time for my family for yet one more reason: the Winter Olympics.
Thirty years ago, my Grandpa Kanalley predicted the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team would pull off a monumental feat - a gold medal. Two days after his death, on Feb. 22, 1980, they upset the HEAVILY-favored Soviet Union in Lake Placid, New York, in one of the most memorable sporting events in American history. Grandpa was buried a day later on Feb. 23, and Team USA went on to win the gold, defeating Finland.
Well, Grandpa, I'm hoping we can do it again. We got USA-Canada tomorrow, Feb. 21, 2010. A prelim game, but a special one nonetheless. With the Sabres' own Ryan Miller in nets for the U.S., here's hoping for a gold in 2010 in Canada. Either way, it's Olympic hockey. I know you're watching.