Doc Rose was a healer, a cheerleader and all-round caretaker for two decades of the best skaters in the State of Hockey.

"He would stay at the rink all day long," said Lou Nanne, the former North Star defenseman, coach and general manager who had Richard Rose as his longtime trainer/equipment manager for nearly all of those years. "He'd make the players come in for their treatments. He'd stay all night. The lockerroom was his home, and the players were his family."

Rose, who taped ankles, sharpened skates and harangued NHL officials from behind the bench throughout the 1970s and 1980s, died Thursday following chronic heart trouble. He was 74, a lifelong bachelor who spent his final years on the North Shore.

Unlike the modern NHL team, which has separate medical and equipment staff, both of those assignments with the North Stars fell to Rose and one other with the same general duties.

That meant a game day for Rose that started with tending to skaters' sore muscles, fixing busted helmets and putting out players' sweaters for the night's battle to come, when Rose took his post in the bench area for the likelihood of a skate edge that needed sharpening or a bruise needing ice.

Nanne recalled suffering a concussion in Pittsburgh in a game against the Penguins and "Doc sat in my room all night long, waking me up every couple of hours just to make sure I was OK."

In a 1973 interview with the Minneapolis Tribune, Rose said, "The games themselves are the fun part of our job. We get involved in the action on the ice, naturally, but we're careful never to get too carried away. A referee can slap a bench penalty on a team if he figures a trainer becomes too abusive."

But sure enough, Rose failed to heed his own advice one night in February 1982 during a North Stars game against the Hartford Whalers.

North Star Bobby Smith and Whaler Russ Anderson got into it and were both sent to the box for roughing. Rose expressed his displeasure, gesturing with his hand to his throat, suggesting that official Denis Morel choked and blew the call.

Morel gave Rose a bench penalty, and the Whalers scored on the power play in a game the North Stars won 8-7.

"He was very, very vociferous on the bench," Nanne recalled, noting that Rose got his revenge that night by removing the complimentary post-game soda and beer that was usually left for the officials in their changing room.

Glen Sonmor, the North Stars coach at the time, said a couple of weeks later, "It's hard for me to get upset at Doc," even though his unbridled passion almost cost the team a point in the standings.

"Nobody cares more about the team than Doc," Sonmor said. "Not the coaches, players nor Louie. Doc's one of us and has a made a real contribution to the team."

Chronic back trouble finally forced Rose into retirement, his final season with the North Stars being 1989-90. Three seasons later, the North Stars were heading to Dallas, where the Stars won the Stanley Cup in 1999.

"It was really tough, that's for sure" for Rose to see the team go, said Linda Johnson, one of his nieces.

Rose attended St. Paul Central High School, took training courses at the University of Minnesota and ultimately made several trips to Europe with the U.S. Olympic and national hockey teams. It was during those trips that his relationship with Nanne was forged and his career with the North Stars secured.

"It can be a tough job," Rose said in the 1973 Tribune interview, "but it's also a very satisfying one. Someday the North Stars are going to win the Stanley Cup, and I hope I'm still around when that happens."

Rose is survived by sisters Mary Peterson and Carol Broton; and a brother, Michael Rose. Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 2048 N. Hamline Av., Roseville, with burial to follow at Roselawn Cemetery, Roseville. Memorials are  preferred to St. John's Catholic Church of Grand Marais, Minn., the Association for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482