Roger Kortko

For a couple of seasons in the mid-1980s Roger Kortko landed a bit part as a role player with the New York Islanders. A quick skater, the Hafford, Saskatchewan native was primarily used as penalty killer.

Defensive hockey was not really Kortko's cup of tea, however. In junior hockey he was an offensive dynamo, once scoring 61 goals, 99 assists and 161 points in 72 games with the Saskatoon Blades in 1982-83. The Islanders had hoped Kortko could pop a few goals at the NHL level, but coming off of their Stanley Cup dynasty years he found it hard to land an offensive role. Instead, he was shoehorned into the utility player role, which was funny because the defensive zone was actually his weakest zone at that time.

Kortko first broke in with the Islanders in the 1984-85 season, but he was hobbled by an ankle injury that required surgery. He returned in 1985-86, appearing in 52 games. A strained knee injury ended his season early, causing him to miss the playoffs.

That was the end of Kortko's NHL career. He spent 1986-87 season with the Islanders farm team. He signed with the Hartford Whalers organization for the next two seasons, but never was promoted from the AHL. In 1989 Kortko headed overseas to play three seasons in Germany to round out his career.

In 79 career NHL games Roger Kortko scored 7 goals and 24 points. His lack of size and lack of offensive role really hindered him. But he always took his lumps in stride:

'It's the Islander tradition to work as hard as you can. That's what I'm doing.''

Kortko returned to Saskatchewan in retirement and was working in the manufactured homes field. Previously he had spent his hockey off-seasons taking classes with the idea of becoming a teacher after hockey. Apparently he never followed that up, but did coach minor hockey in Saskatoon.

1 comment:

Camiel said...

He played overseas in Holland with Tilburg..not in Germany, so far I can recall

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