There are reports today Peter Zezel will be taken off life support today after a long battle with a blood disorder. He's only 44 years old.
I first got to know Zezel as a member of a rather likable Flyers team that included guys like Tim Kerr, Brian Propp, Dave Poulin, Pelle Ekland and Rick Tocchet. I've grown to hate the Flyers, but in '86-'87, I rooted for them, and Zezel was a big reason why.
We traded long-time Maple Leaf Al Iafrate to Washington to bring Peter Zezel to Toronto, his second time playing here after suiting up for the Toronto Marlboros before beginning his NHL career. Heck, Zezel could have played for the Toronto Blizzard, as they drafted him into the North American Soccer League. Peter Zezel ended up playing here from 1991 to 1994, potting 50 goals and adding 78 assists in 207 games. I'll always remember Zezel for one play against the Minnesota Stars in 1993.
The details are sketchy, as they're off the top of my head, but here's what I remember. It was an important game for the Leafs, led by Pat Burns with Felix Potvin between the pipes and Doug Gilmour, Dave Andreychuk and Wendel Clark leading the offense. We were down by a goal against Minnesota when Zezel refused to lose possession of the puck. With sheer force and intensity, he fought off a few Stars and kept the puck on the boards. This went on for what seemed like forever but was probably closer to 10 seconds. Then, Zezel found a teammate with a great pass and the game was tied. We went on to win in overtime and I always saw this play as the season's momentum changer. We were a different team after that win, and we'd eventually get within a win of the Stanley Cup final.
Zezel never gave up. Our hearts and thoughts are with his family today.