Orland Kurtenbach

Orland John Kurtenbach (born September 7, 1936) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and coach. A centre notable for his defensive skill and as one of the toughest fighters in the game, he played for several National Hockey League (NHL) teams during his twenty professional seasons, principally the Vancouver Canucks, with whom he became the NHL franchise's inaugural captain.

Orland Kurtenbach
Kurtenbach during his time with the Boston Bruins
Born (1936-09-07) September 7, 1936
Cudworth, Saskatchewan, Canada
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Vancouver Canucks
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs
Boston Bruins
Playing career 19541974

Early life

Kurtenbach was born in Cudworth, Saskatchewan. He grew up on a farm until his family moved to Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, at age 10.[1] It was at this time that Kurtenbach began playing organized hockey.[1] Beginning as a defenceman, he moved to the centre position later in his career.[1]

Playing career

Kurtenbach played in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) with the Prince Albert Mintos for two seasons, also making brief appearances with the Saskatoon Quakers of the minor professional Western Hockey League (WHL) during that time. In 1957, after Prince Albert was eliminated from the SJHL playoffs, Kurtenbach finished the season with the Flin Flon Bombers, where he helped the team win a Memorial Cup.

Kurtenbach turned professional in 1957–58, signing a C-form with the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL.[1] He scored 54 points in 52 games en route to earning Rookie of the Year honours. In the playoffs, he helped the Canucks to a President's Cup championship.

The majority of Kurtenbach's early professional career would be spent in the minors, splitting time between the AHL with the Buffalo Bisons, Springfield Indians and Providence Reds, and the WHL with the San Francisco Seals and the Canucks. His best season in this stretch was 1962–63, when he notched 87 points for the Seals in 70 games and led the team in scoring in the playoffs en route to winning the league championship.

During his time in the minors, Kurtenbach made two brief appearances in the National Hockey League with the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins, totaling eighteen games, but would not play his first full NHL season until 1963–64 with the Bruins. In 1965–66, he became a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he played a primarily defensive role.[1] Toronto coach Punch Imlach designated Kurtenbach to the bottom two offensive lines, while earning mostly penalty killing time.[1] The following season, he joined the New York Rangers, where he spent four seasons. In the 1970 off-season, he was told by Rangers management he would be unprotected for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft to be picked up by either the Buffalo Sabres or the Vancouver Canucks (the franchise left the WHL to join the NHL).[1]

Kurtenbach was obtained by the Canucks and was named the franchise's first NHL captain.[1] On December 12, 1970, he recorded the first hat trick in Canucks history in a 5-2 victory over the California Golden Seals, it was also the only hat trick he would ever record in his career. He recorded at an NHL career high point-per-game pace with 53 points in 52 games, despite suffering a serious injury on December 23 that sidelined him until March 3.[2] The following season, he registered a career-high 61 points in 78 games. Many of Vancouver's players left the club that season, defecting to the nascent World Hockey Association (WHA) for larger salaries.[3] Kurtenbach himself was offered a $150,000 contract with the Los Angeles Sharks, but he declined.[3] He often played on a line with Wayne Maki and Murray Hall.[1] Kurtenbach retired from the NHL after his fourth season with Vancouver.

Kurtenbach finished his NHL career with 119 goals and 213 assists for 332 points in 639 games, adding 628 penalty minutes. On October 26, 2010, Kurtenbach was the first Canucks player inducted into the team's Ring of Honour.[1] A ceremony was held prior to a Canucks' game against the Colorado Avalanche.[1]

Coaching career

The season after his NHL retirement, Kurtenbach joined the Seattle Totems of the Central Hockey League, moving behind the bench as head coach. After a losing season with Seattle, he coached two seasons with the Tulsa Oilers of the same league and won a championship in his first season with them, 1975–76, being awarded the Jake Milford Trophy as CHL coach of the year.

In 1976–77, Kurtenbach returned to the NHL to replace Phil Maloney midway through the season as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks. This would mark the third time in his playing and coaching career that he would represent Vancouver. However, after one and a half seasons and a 36–62–27 record, Kurtenbach was replaced by Harry Neale at the end of the 1977–78 season. Upon his replacement, Kurtenbach would only return to coaching to represent the Springfield Indians of the AHL in 1982 and the Richmond Sockeyes of the BCHL in 1986 (whom he guided to the 1987 Centennial Cup) before retiring.

Personal life

During his time with the Vancouver Canucks of the WHL, he met his wife.[1] In the 1970s he lived in north Burnaby with his wife Laurel and kids. In 1980s and 1990s he lived in White Rock, BC and operated a south Surrey, BC golf driving range.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1953–54Prince Albert MintosSJHL47294069481511102114
1954–55Prince Albert MintosSJHL48304171571087150
1954–55Saskatoon QuakersWHL10000
1955–56Prince Albert MintosSJHL4341387966125121713
1955–56Saskatoon QuakersWHL3000420000
1955–56Flin Flon BombersM-Cup51342
1956–57Prince Albert MintosSJHL504854102115135111613
1956–57Prince Albert MintosM-Cup51342
1957–58Vancouver CanucksWHL521539545883368
1958–59Buffalo BisonsAHL70914237370000
1959–60Vancouver CanucksWHL42112738511115611
1959–60Springfield IndiansAHL1406617
1960–61Vancouver CanucksWHL5520274731
1960–61New York RangersNHL100662
1961–62Boston BruinsNHL80006
1961–62Providence RedsAHL643133645131125
1962–63San Francisco SealsWHL7030578794174131751
1963–64Boston BruinsNHL7012253791
1964–65Boston BruinsNHL646202686
1965–66Toronto Maple LeafsNHL70961554400020
1966–67New York RangersNHL601125365830220
1967–68New York RangersNHL7315203582610126
1968–69Omaha KnightsCHL10000
1968–69New York RangersNHL20002
1969–70New York RangersNHL534101447612324
1969–70Buffalo BisonsAHL61562
1970–71Vancouver CanucksNHL5221325384
1971–72Vancouver CanucksNHL7824376148
1972–73Vancouver CanucksNHL479192838
1973–74Vancouver CanucksNHL528132130
WHL totals 223 76 150 226 238 38 8 21 29 70
AHL totals 154 41 58 99 143 10 1 1 2 5
NHL totals 639 119 213 332 628 19 2 4 6 70

Awards and achievements



  • Jake Milford Trophy (CHL coach of the year) - 1976

Coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTPtsDivision rankResult
Vancouver Canucks1976-77 45161910(42)4th in SmytheMissed playoffs
Vancouver Canucks1977-78 80204317573rd in SmytheMissed playoffs


  1. Derek Jory (2010-10-25). "The first". Vancouver Canucks. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  2. "1970-71 Canuck Results". The Canuck Library. 2010-08-29. Retrieved 2011-06-07.
  3. "Ring of Hnour for Kurtenbach". Montreal Gazette. 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
Preceded by
Position created
NHL Vancouver Canucks captain
Succeeded by
Andre Boudrias
Preceded by
Phil Maloney
Head coach of the Vancouver Canucks
Succeeded by
Harry Neale
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