Kyte shares knowledge

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:18 PM ET

Winnipeg Jets fans knew him as the towering defenceman who wasn't afraid to tangle with the toughest players in the NHL. Students at Algonquin College's School of Business in Ottawa simply know him as their teacher.

After a rough start to retirement, life after hockey seems to be treating Jim Kyte pretty well these days.

Kyte, 41, is the driving force, and the only full-time faculty member, behind the Sport Business Management program at Algonquin.

Who'd have guessed a guy who put his fists to such good use as a player for 14 years in the pros would be the brains behind an academic program that readies graduate students for a career in the sports industry?

Certainly not Kyte -- at least, not in the days after a car accident ended his playing career in 1997.

Kyte was leaving the rink after a practice with the IHL's Kansas City Blades when he was hit by an uninsured driver. For some 18 months, Kyte was couch-bound while his wife was forced to become the breadwinner of the house.

The effects of the crash linger to this day. Doctors finally cleared Kyte to work out last spring, but he still suffers from headaches and slurred speech when he gets tired.

"Yeah, my career ended and I had some severe problems that I had to go through, and I still deal with today," Kyte told The Sun. "But life could have been a lot worse. I have three young boys, and I'm around for them. I could have ended up in a wheelchair. I think I'm lucky."

Lucky enough that a college dean heard Kyte at a public speaking engagement a few years back and asked him to look into the possibility of setting up a sports management course.

Today, it's a full-time, 12-month program that teaches everything from marketing and ticket sales to bidding for large events and dealing with the media.

A member of the Jets from 1983-89, Kyte not only teaches a couple of courses, he also coordinates the field placements, setting up students to work with pro teams in the area -- the NHL's Ottawa Senators, CFL's Renegades and AAA baseball's Lynx, for instance -- or with one of the city's many government sports organizations.

"I had a student last year who did their placement with the Buffalo Bills," Kyte said. "You can go anywhere you want, as long as you get back to class for Monday afternoon.

"At the end of it, you can put on your resume that you actually have a year's experience in the field, because you've been working the whole time."

Kyte brings in industry experts to teach most of the courses. For instance, the Senators' top salesman teaches a course called Show Me The Money, about how to sell tickets.

A stellar list of guest speakers provides further insight into the business of sport.

"Last year we had Gary Bettman come in to talk to the students, and we also had Bob Goodenow. Not at the same time," Kyte said, referring to the two figures at odds in the current NHL labour dispute.

"It's a good networking opportunity. What people mostly say is, 'It's not what you know, it's who you know.' I take that a little bit further. It's not who you know, it's who knows you."

Those who didn't know Kyte personally might also be surprised to hear he's been writing a weekly newspaper column in the Ottawa Citizen. At least, he was until the NHL lockout began.

This past winter, he was also the assistant coach for the team on which his twin, 10-year-old boys play.

Recently, Kyte's kids have begun to discover more about their dad's playing career, unearthing old jerseys and photos from the family basement.

Kyte, who also played for Pittsburgh, Calgary, Ottawa and San Jose in the NHL, hadn't wanted to display any of that stuff, but he doesn't mind so much, anymore.

"I had a great kick at the can," he said. "I cherish all the memories, all the people that I met, all the friends that I made. I have nothing but warm, positive memories of Winnipeg and its people. It really was a family. It was different playing in Winnipeg than anywhere else."


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