Team Kyte to compete at 2018 Canada Deaf Games
Retired NHL-er Jim Kyte – a first-round (12th overall) pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1982 – is eager to pass on his secrets to the younger Kyte generation as they compete as a family at the upcoming 2018 Canada Deaf Games.
Retired NHL-er Jim Kyte will be leading Team Kyte, including Thomas and Sean Kyte of Pembroke, at the 2018 Canada Deaf Games hockey tournament this February.
Beginning with their dad, Dr. John Kyte, Ottawa’s Kyte family has a long history of hearing loss due to auditory nerve degeneration. All five of Dr. Kyte’s sons (Jim, Murray, John, Frayne and Rob) were born legally deaf and his grandchildren (Abigayle, Emma, Thomas, Johnny Jr., Patrick, and Sean) were affected by varying degrees.
With a profound 100 dB hearing loss, Jim Kyte remains the only deaf player to have played in the National Hockey League. Upon retiring from his professional hockey career in 1998, Jim Kyte had logged 640 regular season and playoff games over 13 seasons with five teams—Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Ottawa and San Jose.
“When someone asks me ‘how hard is it for me to play hockey when I’m legally deaf?’ I tell them it’s a tough question to answer because I don’t know what I’m missing,” said Jim. “But as someone who is haring impaired, when I play hockey I have to use your eyes a lot more. For example, when I was playing in the NHL would have to look at the glass to get a mirror-like reflection in order to see where a player was behind me, since I couldn’t hear them.”
Thanks in part to Jim’s example, none of the Kyte family members ever saw their hearing difficulties as an impediment to playing hockey at the highest level.
Brothers Frayne (‘99 gold medalist) and Murray (’91) represented Canada at the Winter Deaflympics. Thereafter, the younger Kyte generation – composed of Abigayle, Emma, Thomas, Johnny Jr., Patrick, and Sean – altogether represented Canada at the 2017 World Deaf Ice Hockey Championships in Amherst, U.S.
“Going back to my father, we have a very athletic family and I think it's rubbed off on all of his kids and also his grandchildren,” said Jim. “People are often blinded by disabilities and they don’t see the abilities of people. So our family is a wonderful example of being able to play and participate in a sport that most Canadians take for granted. We’re a good example of how deaf people can participate in sport regardless of what challenges we may face.”
Now, Jim – a first-round (12th overall) pick of the Winnipeg Jets in 1982 – is eager to pass on his secrets to the younger Kyte generation as they compete as a family at the upcoming 2018 Canada Deaf Games.
Taking place from Feb. 21 to 24 in Winnipeg, Team Kyte is one of five teams that will compete at the Canada Deaf Games hockey tournament.
Jim will be serving as the team’s coach and will be providing veteran experience along with his brother Rob, John Sr., and Frayne.
Team Kyte’s youthful vigour will be provided by provided by the younger Kyte generation, made up of siblings Emma, Abigayle, Thomas, and Johnny Jr. with cousin Sean.
“It’s an unbelievable, humbling experience to be able to play with my cousins and uncles. This opportunity will not come around again, so I want to take advantage of it,” said Sean, former assistant captain of the Renfrew Timberwolves Jr. B hockey team. “I cannot wait to be in Winnipeg with our team to win gold. Team Kyte will be fast, smart and strong, so I wish luck to all other teams that are participating.”
Sean’s brother, Patrick, who played for the Pembroke Lumber Kings last year, will not be able to take part in the Canada Deaf Games as he’s currently playing with the Halifax Mooseheads.
“It's going to be really unique simply because it's a three-on-three tournament and the fact that the whole team is going to be Kyte members is going to be really special and a bit of a family reunion,” said Jim. “We'll have two generations playing so it's going to be fun a lot of fun, and being the Canada Deaf Games it will be a wonderful cultural experience as well.”
Johnny Jr., a former assistant captain with the Pembroke Lumber Kings, shared his joy of having the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play at a competitive hockey event with most of his family.
“I am very excited to be able to participate in this event given the size of Kyte family. I look forward to bringing my best to Winnipeg along with my family en route to a gold medal,” said Johnny Kyte Jr., in a press release. “Best of luck to the other competitors and teams. It is going to be fun meeting other deaf / hard of hearing athletes from across the country.”
With the tournament taking place in Winnipeg, Jim expressed that it will also serve as a sort of homecoming, in light of his days as a defenceman for the Winnipeg Jets.
“It's in Winnipeg and I played for the Winnipeg Jets for seven years, so it's going to be a bit of a homecoming for me,” said Jim. “And whether we win, lose or draw, I think we're going to have a lot of fun.”