By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter! @andrewlindrothh
Gord Kluzak was born on March 4th, 1964, in Climax, Saskatchewan, Canada. He began playing juniors as a 16-year-old defenseman in the Western Hockey League (WHL), suiting up for the Billings Bighorns from 1980-1982. The 6’4, 220-pound defenseman was phenomenal during his two seasons in the WHL, contributing 13 goals and 71 points with a whopping 270 PIM in 106 contests.
That summer in 1982, Kluzak was selected to play for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships, winning the gold medal with the team and the World Junior’s Best Defenseman Award. He was also named the Canadian Amateur Junior Male Athlete of Year in 1982. Following his strong performance, Kluzak entered the 1982 NHL Entry Draft as one of the most touted draftees that year, and the Bruins had their eye on him all the way and eventually decided to select him as the first overall pick.
The Boston Bruins were not about to have their first overall pick start with their minor-pro affiliate and immediately made Kluzak a regular in the lineup for the 1982-1983 season. Although the defenseman had struggled to produce offensively, producing just one goal and seven points in 70 games played, he performed strong shut-down defense, especially on the top penalty-kill unit. Kluzak was also no stranger to hard-nosed, physical play as well as sticking up for his teammates as he racked up 105 PIM with nine fighting majors his rookie year, according to Hockey Fights.
Kluzak returned the following season as significantly improved, and his numbers exemplified that, racking up ten goals and 37 points with a plus-ten rating while playing all 80 games that season. It was clear as day that Kluzak could provide a bright future for the Bruins’ blue-line, but on October 7th, 1984, Kulzak collided mid-ice with New Jersey Devils defenseman Dave Lewis, resulting in torn ligaments in his left knee.
The torn ligaments were so severe that they required reconstructive knee surgery, resulting in Kulzak missing the 1984-1985 regular season and playoffs. Due to previous knee injuries Kluzak sustained in the WHL, this began to make the road to recovery very difficult and tedious.
Kluzak made his comeback during the 1985-1986 season and rekindled his success on both sides of the ice, including offensively, where he ended up having his most productive year, notching eight goals and 39 points with a whopping 153 PIM. He was also able to remain healthy most of the season, suiting up for 70 games, which at the time gave the Bruins organization the assumption that Kluzak had overcome his knee injury/surgery but would catch up to him once again in September of 1986.
Kluzak re-injured his knee before the start of the 1986-1987 campaign, which prompted yet another invasive knee surgery that would keep the defenseman absent for the entire season. As the 22-year-old continued to struggle with chronic knee issues and the intense recovery process, he knew his time wasn’t finished in the NHL and once again overcame his knee injury to the point he could participate in the 1987-1988 season.
Kluzak’s second comeback to the Boston Bruins would be his most significant return. He helped lead the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988 before eventually falling to the Edmonton Oilers in a four-game sweep. Kluzak even appeared in all 24 playoff games that year, contributing four goals and 12 points with a plus-six rating and 59 PIM.
Unfortunately, Kulzak’s return to the Bruins was short-lived as he went on to appear in only 13 regular season contests from 1988 through 1990, with his last game played being on November 5th, 1990, against the New York Rangers. Although he did not see much action during that time, Kluzak ended up being awarded the Bill Masteron Award in 1990. After 11 extensive knee surgeries, Kluzak officially announced his retirement on November 12th, 1990.
After being forced to retire at 26-years-old, Kluzak enrolled at Harvard University and achieved his bachelor’s degree in Economics. After graduating, he served two years as the Chief of Staff for the state lottery. He later returned to Harvard University, earned his MBA in 1998, and has since then been working for Goldman Sachs.
Bruins fans may also recognize Kluzak from when he worked as a color commentator for the Boston Bruins telecasts and did so from 1995 through 2004. He also worked for NESN as a studio analyst from 2005 until 2015.
Throughout his seven-year tenure in the NHL, Kluzak recorded 25 goals and 123 points with an astounding 541 PIM in 299 games. From all of us at Black N’ Gold, we wish Gord Kluzak a wonderful 57th birthday!