This is Tom Edur. He was a promising defenseman just coming into his own when he, at age 23, walked away from the game.
Edur had oodles of promise. In 1973 as a 17 year old Edur, along side notable teammates Mike Palmateer, Bruce Boudreau and Mark and Marty Howe, helped the Toronto Marlies capture the Memorial Cup.
His fine performance at the Memorial Cup led the WHA Cleveland Crusaders to offer the underaged junior a 3 year, $250,000 contract, stealing him before the NHL had a chance to draft him a year later. The Boston Bruins did draft him in 1974, but he remained in Cleveland for the duration of his contract.
Edur was emerging nicely with the Crusaders. By the final year of his contract the 20 year old rearguard tallied 35 points and impressively compiled a +14 rating on a horrendous defensive team.
Despite increasingly feeling comfortable on the ice, he was uneasy off of it. He was said to be shocked and disillusioned with the pro-hockey lifestyle, particularly the drinking and promiscuity. He tried to accept it, and forced himself to indulge in it, once claiming to be drunk every day for a month.
In 1976-77 Edur jumped to the NHL. He joined the Colorado Rockies, being reunited with his former Cleveland coach Johnny Wilson. He was named as Colorado's best defenseman that first season in Denver, but early the next season he was traded to Pittsburgh, again following Wilson.
Edur was really coming into his own for the remainder of the season with the Penguins. He scored 10 goals and 55 points, the 11th most of all NHL defensemen. The 23 year old's career seemed ready for take off. But that is when Edur grounded his career, walking away from the game in the summer of 1978.
Prior to training camp Edur informed the Penguins he was going to retire. He had become a devoted Jehovah's Witness, and wanted to fully commit to his new found faith. The Penguins offered him a new contract complete with a big raise and the blessing to sit out Sunday games.
But Edur did not return. He explained his decision in an interview for a 1979 issue of MacLean's magazine.
"I quit hockey - but not because I don't love the game. I do. My dream had been to become a National Hockey League player. I can still remember when I was about ten years old and faithfully watching my favorite hockey team on TV. Sometimes, when their games were on radio, I'd fall asleep listening to them in bed."
"But serving Jehovah, the Most High God, is not just a one-day-a-week affair. It is a "way of life. Hockey is also a full-time career. You have to be dedicated to it, playing and practicing all the time. And now I was dedicated to Jehovah. (Matthew 16:24) To play as a professional and at the same time try to serve Jehovah would, I felt, be like having two masters-something or someone would be bound to suffer. So I let the team know I was quitting professional hockey."
You can read the entire MacLean's article here.
I'm not really sure what happened to Tom Edur after he left hockey. He appears to have initially become a Jehovah's Witness pioneer, spreading the word of God. I'm not sure if he became involved in any other career. Apparently he had been completing a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto while he was still playing.
The Penguins meanwhile joked in Sports Illustrated that they were receiving two miracles from God as compensation.