Sad news from the NHLPA. Peter Zezel — whom I remember as a tremendous competitor when he was with the Flyers, a strong skater, a former soccer player as I recall — has passed away. Here’s the release:
FORMER NHL PLAYER PETER ZEZEL PASSES AWAY
TORONTO, ON (May 26, 2009) – It is with great regret and deep sadness that the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) announces the passing of former NHL forward Peter Zezel on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 44. Zezel passed away following complications from a long-time blood disorder.
Zezel played 15-years in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks. Originally drafted 41st overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the 1983 Entry Draft, Zezel played 873 regular season games, scoring 219 goals and 389 assists. Zezel retired from the NHL following the 1998-99 season.
Following his NHL career, Zezel, a native of Toronto, remained active in the hockey community running a successful hockey school and coaching in the Greater Toronto Hockey League with the Don Mills Hockey Association. Zezel was also an active member of the NHL Alumni Association and completed countless hours of charitable work during and following his hockey career.
Zezel’s family released the following statement:
“Peter will forever be remembered as a great teammate and a wonderful individual, who touched the lives of many both on and off the ice. In his typical character of generosity, Peter has donated his organs through the Trillium Gift of Life Network. We would like to thank all of Peter’s friends and family for their support and we ask for privacy during this difficult time.”
Glenn Healy, NHLPA Director of Player Affairs, issued the following statement on behalf of the NHLPA:
“The hockey community has suffered a great loss today. Peter was a friend and a great family man who was well liked by everyone he crossed paths with in our game. Our thoughts are with Peter’s family and many friends during this difficult time.”
The family has requested in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Peter Zezel’s name to the James Birrell Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Cheques are payable to “The James Fund” and can be mailed to:
The James Fund
625 Whitaker Street #4
Or contact Diana Birrell at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Memorial services are pending.