Steve Mountain, Kerr's agent, said the family was shocked because "she was on the phone the night before, saying (to friends), 'I'm coming home tomorrow.' "
Hospital spokeswoman Laura Feragen said the exact cause of death had not been determined. Someone had checked on Mrs. Kerr between 5 and 6 a.m., Feragen said, and had not detected any problems. Then, at about 7, Feragen said, the complications became apparent.
Kimberly had remained in the hospital with her mother, Feragen said.
Tim Kerr found out about his wife's death yesterday morning, while in Pittsburgh for last night's game with the Penguins. After speaking with coach Paul Holmgren at about 8 a.m., he arranged to fly back to Philadelphia. However, Flyers general manager Russ Farwell and team president Jay Snider flew to Pittsburgh in the team's private plane and escorted Kerr home.
As the players drifted down to breakfast at their hotel yesterday morning, assistant coaches Ken Hitchcock and Craig Hartsburg broke the news to the older players, who then informed the younger players. At 10:30, the team met and went through a short skate at the Civic Arena.
"It was the quietest locker room and quietest practice we've had in a long time," said Flyers center Ron Sutter, the team captain.
Snider issued a statement saying: "The entire Flyers family is deeply saddened and shocked. No words can adequately express our grief over this tragic loss. All of our thoughts and prayers go out to Tim, the children and the family."
Mrs. Kerr's was not the first premature death to occur in the Flyers' extended family in the last 10 years. Defenseman Barry Ashbee died in 1980 of leukemia, and goaltender Pelle Lindbergh was killed in 1985 in an automobile crash.
"This is something that really puts life in perspective," defenseman Gord Murphy said. "As much as hockey is our job, this is just a game. It's nothing compared to things in life such as losing loved ones. It makes the game seem so unimportant."
Mrs. Kerr's death was particularly hard on Holmgren. Holmgren and Tim Kerr were teammates before Holmgren was traded to Minnesota, and Holmgren was very close to Kerr's family.
"This is the most difficult game we'll ever have to play," Holmgren said before last night's game. "Something these guys enjoy so much is going to seem like a job to them. I'm shocked."
Holmgren said he had talked with Kerr for a few hours before Kerr left for Philadelphia but that he was "not even sure what I said."
"This has been very difficult for Homer," said Sutter, referring to Holmgren. "(Tim Kerr and he) are very close friends.
"I've never seen a team in my eight years where so many players faced so much adversity through the tragedy of losing family members. It's scary."
Mrs. Kerr was active in the Flyers' Wives Fight for Lives Carnival. She was chairwoman for the event for the last three years and enjoyed paying special attention to it. Proceeds from the annual event, which has raised more than $4 million in 14 years, benefit the Barry Ashbee Research Laboratories at Hahnemann Hospital.
"Kathy excelled at organization," said Jill Vogel, the Flyers' assistant director of public relations. "She was super-involved with all aspects of the carnival. For the first time last year, she developed a program book that had pictures of the players when they were younger, and she got sponsors and created booths. Because of her dedication to that cause, it was a full-time job for her."
"Kathy was someone who was very dedicated to whatever she was doing," Sutter said. "She was very outgoing, very friendly."
Sutter said some of the Flyers' wives planned to gather at Sutter's house last night so they would not be alone.
"I can't find the proper words to describe how the team as a whole is going to support him," Sutter said of Kerr before last night's game. "This gives meaning to that (idea that) hockey is just a game. For the players, the best situation is to get into the game and let our emotions take over. Most guys' thoughts are definitely not on the game."
There was a moment of silence for Mrs. Kerr at the Civic Arena before the game.
Mrs. Kerr is survived by three daughters - Jackie, Kayleigh and Kimberly. Funeral arrangements had not been announced as of last night.