The death Tuesday of former Flyer Peter Zezel, 44, brought a broad range of reactions from his ex-teammates and management types. The Flyers on Wednesday released the following statements from some of those individuals:
RICK TOCCHET: “It is a sad day. Obviously, as a former teammate, it is a sad loss. I know he touched a lot of lives. Unfortunately, I had lost touch with Peter the last few years. We kind of went our separate ways in the hockey world. In talking recently with some of his friends regarding the stuff he was doing with the youth hockey he had been involved with back in Toronto, I am sure he will be leaving behind a legacy. He was just a great guy.
“In the time that we were teammates in Philadelphia, he was probably one of the most popular guys, not just with the Flyers, but among all sports figures in Philadelphia. He was probably one of the top three athletes in Philadelphia at that time. Everybody recognized him on and off the ice. As far as his play was concerned, he was one of the best draw guys in the league and one of the best passers. I know his rookie year he had a bunch of assists. He had really good chemistry with Timmy Kerr on the power play. He was just a guy you could count on. He was a guy you couldn’t knock off the puck. He was a big part of our team.
“Peter was a matinee idol. He was one of those guys who were infectious. When you went out with him, the girls just really liked him. He had a fan base of girls that in all the years I’ve played in the NHL, I have never seen a guy that had so many girls flock to him. He was very fan friendly. I never saw him turn down signing an autograph. The public relations department loved him because he never turned down hospital or school visits. Mr. Snider will even probably tell you that Peter was one of the most accessible Flyers who ever played the game.”
BOB CLARKE: “It obviously is way too early for a man to die at 44 years old. The tragedy surrounding it is just horrific for any of us who knew Peter. Peter was a pretty good hockey player. When he turned pro in Philadelphia, which was my first year (as management), he was an instant favorite with the fans, particularly the young girls. He could play hockey. He was a tank on skates. He could hit and hit very hard. He was terrific on face-offs. He was very skilled with his feet, with the puck and actually very skilled with his stick setting up plays. He was a really good young player who quite possibly had a shot a being a lot better.”
KJELL SAMUELSSON: “I am very sad and very surprised. I knew he was a little bit sick but I didn’t know it was this serious. He was a great guy. I played with him for two years in the Flyers organization. As a player he was very strong on face-offs and a good offensive player. I know when he was here there were guys like Derrick Smith, Rick Tocchet and him. There were a lot of girls, a lot of young girls, wearing Pete Zezel, Rick Tocchet and Derrick Smith jerseys. I do remember that. He was a good teammate. He was kind of a low-key, quiet type. You had to get to know him before he opened up to you.”
CRAIG BERUBE: “Obviously, it is very upsetting. He was a great guy. He was a great teammate. He always had a smile on his face. He came to the rink always happy. He was fun to be around and was a good hockey player for a long time. He played hard.”
BRIAN PROPP: “I was really saddened when I heard of the passing of Peter Zezel. He was a good teammate with the Flyers. I know that he was very involved in the community in Toronto in teaching a lot of ice hockey to children up there.
“Peter was a very good role player on the third and fourth lines as a center ice man. He was very good on face-offs and did whatever the team asked of him. He was a good passer, played on the power play a little bit. Overall, he was a real good role player.”