Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Peter Zezel

Peter and I grew up on the same street in Scarborough. He was about six years older, which is a pretty wide gulf when you're a kid, but I have tremendously fond memories of Peter and his family.

From hockey in his driveway to huge street hockey games a few roads over on Valhalla Boulevard, Peter was a talented guy who always managed to keep it fun. He would get the younger kids to touch the ball before he'd go end to end and score, making sure to note the "assist" on the play.

His generosity went well beyond those helper assists. When he played for the Toronto Marlies, Peter would often show up at our door with strips of Marlies tickets in his hands. Thanks to his kindness I watched countless Marlie games up in the greens at MLG.

In his rookie year with Philadelphia, #25 Flyers jerseys suddenly appeared throughout our neighbourhood. The introduction of that brilliant Philly orange so startling in a sporting landscape traditionally coloured blue and white.

The Alpine bar at Victoria Park and Kingston Road used to put Peter's name up on the marquee alongside Rick Tochhet, another Scarborough boy who Peter broke-into the bigs with, to urge the Flyers on to success.

As a Leafs fan, it's difficult to believe how hard I cheered for the Flyers during their Cup runs back in '85 and '87 and how crushed I was when they lost.

A year or two later, Wendel Clark spent his rookie year billeting with the Zezels. Not long after that, I recall Peter being back home at his parents' place during Leafs training camp. It seemed so right for Peter to be with the Leafs and so natural for an actual Toronto Maple Leaf to be out talking with the neighbours and kids on the street.

And that's how I'll remember Peter. A great guy who always made time for us kids, even when we grew up and remained big fans of his and the game he played.

Peter's family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made in his name to the James Birrell Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. The cheques should be made payable to "The James Fund" and can be mailed to:
The James Fund
625 Whitaker Street
#4Peterborough, ON
K9H 7L5


  1. An excellent tribute, MF. Can't see you cheering on the Flyers, but totally understand why you did.

    RIP, Peter Zezel ...

  2. Anonymous11:24 a.m.

    I also lived on the same street, and agree with you 100%. He was a great guy who asked all of us neighbourhood kids to play road hockey with him. It didn't matter how young or old you were, he would on more than one occassion ask my Dad to play. I have nothing but found memories of his kindness. My thoughts and pryaers are with his family at this difficult time.

  3. Anonymous4:36 p.m.

    I didnt live on the same street but I grew up in Markham Ont and he was my hero right from the beginning of his career. I was lucky enough to meet Peter this year @ the game April 1 2009 against Toronto against Philly and he sat right in front of me he was wonderful he signed all my stuff and I took a picture with him. I still brag to everyone about it and show off my picture that is on my cellphone.
    He will be missed!
    God Bless
    RIP Peter

  4. Anonymous #1 - if you get a chance, send me an email at bitter37 @ gmail.com would love to hear from you about growing up on Lakeside - I'm sure we know each other.