Kurvers dies at 58, was Wild assistant general manager

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Tom Kurvers, assistant general manager of the Minnesota Wild who played 11 NHL seasons as a defenseman, died Monday. He was 58.

“The Minnesota Wild organization is heartbroken to announce that Tom Kurvers passed away this morning after a courageous battle with lung cancer,” the Wild said in a statement. “We extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to Tom’s family and loved ones, including his wife, Heather, daughters Madison and Rose, and sons Weston and Roman.”

Kurvers was diagnosed with lung cancer in January 2019 despite not being a smoker.

“It’s a terrible stigma that is attached to lung cancer,” Kurvers told the Wild website Aug. 4, 2019. “Lung cancer kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. It has a stigma of being a smoker’s cancer, but 50 percent of the people who are diagnosed are not smokers.”

Kurvers had been Wild assistant GM since July 17, 2018. He ran in the 10K A Breath of Hope Lung Run/Walk Twin Cities in 2019 and worked with the A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation to help raise lung cancer awareness and provide patient and family support and fund research since his diagnosis. The run raised more than $100,000.

“It’s a big deal for A Breath of Hope,” Kurvers said Aug. 5, 2020, according to the Wild website. “It’s a local lung cancer foundation. It’s very specific in its mission. [Last year] was a very well-run event, people came together, and it was really a great day for our family.

“There’s a community of people who are in the same battle, and it’s really tied together by the A Breath of Hope Foundation. They do as much as they can to help foster that community. It really is a tight-knit group of people doing extraordinary work and I’m proud to be connected to them and to help them, because they helped me.

“The fundraising efforts have a chance to save my life and so many others, so it’s important to me and important to my family.”

Kurvers was chosen by the Montreal Canadiens in the seventh round (No. 145) of the 1981 NHL Draft. He won the Hobey Baker Award given to the top men’s player in NCAA Division I ice hockey in 1984, when he scored 76 points (18 goals, 58 assists) in 43 games as a senior at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

He scored 30 points (seven goals, 23 assists) in 62 regular-season games for the Canadiens when they won the Stanley Cup in 1986, and 421 points (93 goals, 328 assists) in 659 NHL games for the Anaheim Ducks, New York Islanders, Vancouver Canucks, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres and the Canadiens.

“From Minnesota high school standout, to Hobey Baker Award winner and Stanley Cup champion, Tom’s passion for and success in hockey could only be surpassed by the love and optimism he shared with family and friends each and every day,” the Wild said. “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. We join the State of Hockey in mourning the loss a great hockey player and an even better person.

“Rest in peace TK.”

Kurvers played his final NHL season in 1994-95, and ended his playing career after one additional season with Seibu in the Japan Ice Hockey League. He became a radio analyst for the Phoenix Coyotes, and after one season was hired by the Coyotes as a pro scout and then promoted to director of player personnel, in 2005. He was assistant general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning from 2008-11, held the GM role during the 2009-10 season, and was a senior adviser to GM Steve Yzerman from 2011-18.

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