John was a wild fighter who had the rare ability to throw punches with either hand. Many opponents would tie up Kordic's right hand only to have John surprise them by pummeling them with his equally lethal left hand.
People enjoyed watching John fight. He always made a big production of every fisticuff by taking off his sweater and elbow pads before punishing his opponent.
Kordic began his career by playing junior hockey in the WHL. In 1983, he won a Memorial Cup with the Portland Hawks. Although primarily a left winger in the pros, Kordic was a stand out defenseman with the Winter Hawks for 2 1/2 seasons. Half way during his last year of junior he was traded to Seattle where he finished the season incredibly (23-58-81 with 227 PIM). He was named to the WHL All Star Team.
He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1983 and spent some time in the minors before being called up to the Habs in April, 1986. A couple of other youngsters were called up late that season. Patrick Roy provided goaltending not seen in Montreal since the days of Ken Dryden. Claude Lemieux came out of nowhere to timely score significant goals. And Kordic supplied the Habs with that genuine enforcer to protect their smaller players. The pieces to the championship puzzle were set and Montreal won a surprise Cup in 1986.
Kordic became a fan favorite in Montreal rather quickly. He signed a huge 2 year contract and seemed to be on top of the world. However soon after Kordic begain experimenting with cocaine and steroids. He also was a very heavy drinker who would stay out all night in Montreal bars.
By 1988 his drinking and substance abuce wore thin with the Montreal management, and they succeeded in trading him in on of the sweetest deals in NHL history. The Habs sent Kordic and a 6th round pick to Toronto in exchange for Russ Courtnall - a speedy, skilled playmaking center/right winger.
Kordic had trouble adjusting to his new surroundings in Toronto and he was the object of media and fan criticism because he had been traded for a skillful player like Courtnall who was excelling in Montreal. By December, Kordic had created much chaos by breaking his stick over Keith Acton's head. The unsuspecting Acton ended up with a broken nose. Kordic was suspended for ten games.
Kordic's troubles really began to escalate once his father died. His drinking, drug use and steroid experimentation all increased and Kordic spent most of his time in the pressbox and minors before being traded to Washington in January of 1991.
It was in Washington when Kordic finally received some help. The Capitals put him up in Alcoholics Anonymous but he failed to make any progress. The Caps released him at the end of the season.
Kordic was signed by the Quebec Nordiques for the 1991-92 season but it was a similar story there too. The Nords brought in Kordic to help out their own problem-child in Bryan Fogarty. The thought was the two were serious about recovery and the two could help each other fight the battle. But the idea (not exactly the greatest one to start with) failed miserably.
On August 8, 1992, John Kordic died from a cardiac arrest. High on cocaine, Kordic had been fighting with a number of police officers in the Quebec hotel. The officers were trying to remove the already agitated Kordic. The excitement of the scuffle combined with prolonged drug use caused Kordic's heart to stop.
Many questions were raised after Kordic's death, specifically how the NHL and the teams could have better prevented this tragic story.