BiographyAthlete : Hockey
Year Inducted: 2018
Date of Birth: March 21, 1964
Born in: Ottawa, Ontario
Jim Kyte, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound defenceman who played 598 regular-season games across 13 seasons for five NHL teams, accumulated 1,342 penalty minutes and was regarded as one of the toughest players of his time. But there’s more to Kyte. He was the first, and till date only, legally deaf player in NHL history.
But there’s more to Kyte.
After retiring from the game, he became a columnist, went back to school to do his MBA, became a motivational speaker, created and ran a sports business management program and is currently a dean. Kyte is one of the few players to have made a successful transition away from the game and is as multi-dimensional as it can be. And he managed all of this despite his hearing impairment.
As a kid, Kyte didn’t think of hockey as a career option. But that changed in Grade 11 when he was first overall pick in the Central Junior Hockey League draft. This was in 1980 and the next year he was the first round draft pick for Ontario Hockey League’s Cornwall Royals. It was interesting to note that the scout who picked him – the famous Gordie Wood – did not know about Kyte’s condition then.
In 1982, he was selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, 21 overall, by the Winnipeg Jets. He played with them for seven seasons. He would go on to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins (1989-91), Calgary Flames (1990-92), Ottawa Senators (1992-93) and ended his career with the San Jose Sharks (1994-96). He scored 17 goals, had 49 assists and raked up 66 points apart from his defenceman duties. He competed in 42 NHL playoff games across six seasons, reaching the second round twice.
Kyte has a 100-decibel hearing loss which meant that he had to find ways to compensate for it. From constantly counting the players in the offensive zone to using the Plexiglass as a mirror to plan passes, Kyte had to invent a lot of tricks.
He was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy – awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
In 1997 Kyte had to retire from hockey because of a horrible accident when a vehicle jumped a red light and rammed into his car. With a return to the game no longer possible, Kyte had to dig deep to come out of that situation. He started writing and that eventually led to a weekly column – Point Man – with the Ottawa Citizen. He did this for four years.
He then joined the National Speakers Bureau and the then Algonquin College business dean Kent MacDonald heard one of his speeches and that chance meeting led to Kyte to becoming the program coordinator of Algonquin College’s Sport Business Management Program. Kyte became the School of Business department chair in 2007 and in 2014 he was named dean of Algonquin’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.
Apart from his academic career, he is the co-founder of the Canadian Hearing Impaired Hockey Association, Founder of the Jim Kyte Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired, was the Director of Ottawa District Hockey Association (2006-07) and was the co-chair of the volunteer division for the 2009 IIHF world junior men ‘s hockey championship in Ottawa
Kyte is the epitome of an individual who has constantly learned to beat the odds with his sheer determination and will.