Monday, June 21 was a sad day for hockey fans around the world. The league lost one of its all-time greats Tom Kurvers to a longtime battle with lung cancer. Kurvers was just 58 years young.
Tom Kurvers Career
Kurvers was drafted late in the seventh-round of the NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens. This came just after his freshman season playing for Minnesota Duluth and few people in the NHL were aware of the raw talent this young man possessed. That all changed for Kurvers in his final year attending Minnesota Duluth.
In his final season, Kurvers racked up a total of 76 points in leading Minnesota Duluth to a national title in 1984. Rightfully so, Kurvers earned the Hobey Baker Award for the 1984 season as the top college hockey player.
Despite his heroics at Minnesota Duluth, nothing was quite ever enough for Tom Kurvers. A collegiate national title didn’t satisfy him, he was always hungry for more success. He was able to find what he was looking for in the NHL.
It’s pretty apparent the kind of impact Tom Kurvers had on the Canadiens for the 1986 season as they were able to capture the Stanley Cup. As a defenseman, Kurvers was never expected to lead the team in statistical categories, rather it be the material that doesn’t show up in the box score that help win his team games.
That isn’t to say he didn’t contribute on the offensive side though as he piled on 54 points in the 1988-89 season with the Devils.
In his 11 NHL seasons, Kurvers bounced around from team to team playing with the Canadiens, Sabres, Devils, Maple Leafs, Canucks, Islanders, and Mighty Ducks. Being traded seven times is just two shy of the all-time record. Kurvers was able to put up 421 points in just 659 regular-season games. Keep in mind, Kurvers was a defenseman.
When it became time for Kurvers to hang up the skates, he found a way to keep himself as involved in the game as possible by going into management. Kurvers began scouting for the Arizona Coyotes before joining the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he played a crucial role in developing a Stanley Cup caliber team. Most recently, he found himself in the role as Minnesota Wild assistant general manager.
The Wild released a statement following the unfortunate news saying, “Tom’s passion for success in hockey could only be surpassed by the love and optimism he shared with his family and friends each and every day. Tom’s kindness and enthusiasm will be greatly missed by the countless number of people on whom he had a positive influence throughout his life.”
11 seasons in the NHL carries a significant amount of weight. Countless hours in the gym, traveling, practicing, etc. helps prepare someone for their life after hockey. Kurvers was able to apply his work ethic on the ice to his career away from the game. He became a mentor to anyone involved with the organization as he brought positive energy everywhere he went.
Tampa Bay Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said, “There are a lot of terrific people in the hockey world, but Tom stood out as the nicest, kindest, and most humble. He was grateful for all the good that happened in his life and was eager to give back. He was very generous with his advice and very insightful. I know Tom mentored many people throughout hockey, and I was privileged to be one of them.”
The hockey world will forever remember the legacy of Tom Kurvers as someone who had a positive impact on any individual he came in contact with.