Friday

Rich Kromm

Rich Kromm earned a reputation for being an unrelenting left wing who possessed a strong work ethic and great savvy. An exemplary defensive-minded left winger, Kromm's team-oriented approach to the game made him a valuable role player. A good skater, Kromm rarely took bad penalties and was well liked by his teammates.

Kromm was born in Trail, BC in 1964. His father Bobby had played there and also coach the famous Smoke Eaters to the Allan Cup and to the World Hockey Championships in 1961 - the last Canadian amateur team to win the World title. Kromm's coaching success took him to coaching jobs in Dallas (CHL), Winnipeg (WHA) and Detroit (NHL), which made for a lot of interesting relocations for his family. Instead of growing up playing shinny on the frozen ponds back in the BC Kootenays, young Rich (and his brother David, who made it to the Canadian junior leagues) was learning from some of the best hockey players in the world.

Rich was drafted by the Calgary Flames in the second round, (37th overall), in the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. He had spent his junior days with the Portland Winter Hawks where he was a high scoring winger on the same team as Cam Neely, Gary Nylund, Alfie Turcotte, Ken Yaremchuk and Brian Curran.

Rich broke into the NHL in 1983-84 but it wasn't until 1984-85 that he got a good opportunity to play. He responded well by scoring 20 goals and 32 assists and finishing with a +19. However he took a step back in his 3rd season slipping to just 12 goals and 29 points in 63 games.

I best remember Rich Kromm in Calgary for playing alongside Colin Patterson usually. One year the two wingers were centered by Carey Wilson on "the Dice Line." He was a conscientious checker because of his speed and anticipation, and he was sturdy if wiry.

On March, 11, 1986 the Flames traded Kromm and young defenseman Steve Konroyd to the Islanders in exchange for rugged John Tonelli. Tonelli was a huge part of the Islanders dynasty years. The Flames wanted him to help teach their younger players and to help take them to the next level. In order to get Tonelli, the Isles wanted a couple of good young players in return.

Although Kromm scored 7 goals and 14 points in the final 14 games of the 1986, Kromm never developed into much of an offensive player. He played 2 full seasons with the Islanders, scoring 12 and 5 goals respectively. Those totals were quite paltry considering he did see some even strength time playing with a couple of guys named Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy.

By 1988-89 his full time NHL job was gone, and Rich began bouncing around the minor leagues. He ended up playing just 28 more NHL games over the next 5 years.

Although he didn't know it at the time, Rich's last NHL game came in 1993 when the Islanders called him up for one game. And what a game it was for the low scoring winger. He scored once and set up two others.

Rich retired after that season. In 372 career NHL games he tallied 70 goals and 103 assists for 173 career points.  After retiring Rich, who played under two of the greatest coaches ever in Bob Johnson and Al Arbour, would follow his father's footsteps and get into coaching. He has been a long serving coach in the minor leagues with stints also in the WHL junior league.

As an interesting aside, Kromm's father in law knows a thing or two about coaching, too. Rich married the daughter of famous NCAA basketball coach turned television analysts Pete Gillen.

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