June 11 2010
Bobby Kromm, who was the player-coach for Canada's 1961 IIHF world champion Trail Smoke Eaters, died Wednesday, June 9 from colon cancer complications. He was 82.
Kromm was one of the first Canadian coaches to become involved with the international game in the early 1960s, when Canada struggled to maintain its position as the best hockey country in the world after the Soviets burst onto the scene.
From 19 Kromm was playing coach of the Smoke Eaters, leading the team to the final of the 1960 Allan Cup and coaching the team to the historic 1961 IIHF World Championship win in Switzerland. Against all odds, Kromm’s Smoke Eaters defeated the Soviet Union 5-1 in the gold medal game. Under his tenure, the Smoke Eaters were also Allan Cup champions in 1962 and represented Canada at the 1963 IIHF World Championship in Sweden, finishing fourth.
In 1975, Kromm moved to the Winnipeg Jets of the World Hockey Association, where he coached 161 games. Kromm’s Jets of the mid-70s played a very exciting brand of hockey, which later influenced Glen Sather when he built the Edmonton Oilers dynasty in the 1980s.
Kromm’s impact with the Jets and his knowledge of the international game was also behind Team Canada GM Sam Pollock’s decision to name him as one of Scotty Bowman’s three assistant coaches for the historic 1976 Canada Cup, alongside Al MacNeil and Don Cherry.
In 1977, he moved on to work with the Detroit Red Wings, coaching them for 231 games and winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 1978. Following his hockey coaching career, Kromm settled down in Livonia, Mich.
His son, Richard, played in the NHL for the Calgary Flames and the New York Islanders during the 1980s, and granddaughter Erica took part in camps for Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 Team and was British Columbia’s captain at the 2007 Canada Winter Games.
With files from IIHF.com and the Winnipeg Free Press