May 26, 2009 - Peter Zezel
1990-91 was a disaster on so many levels. One of the worst aspects of the whole thing was watching all the youth and promise of the 1989-90 team dealt away in a desperate attempt to find anything that could possibly work and avoid having the Leafs finish dead last.
In the middle of January, the Leafs gave up on Al Iafrate, who had had trouble recovering from a catastrophic knee injury the previous spring and was also having personal problems. In one of the few trades made that year that was arguably beneficial, the Leafs picked up Bob Rouse and Peter Zezel.
Zezel had been a guy who had put up decent offensive numbers in Philly and had briefly centered Brett Hull in St. Louis. He was looked to for some offensive punch at centre, the kind missing since the departure of Ed Olczyk. Zezel responded and went 14-14-28 in the 32 Leaf games he played.
The following year, particularly after the arrival of Doug Gilmour in January, Zezel settled down into a more defensive role. In 1992-93, he centred the Leafs grind line with Berg and Osborne. They'd hit anything that moved, lots of things that didn't, score the odd goal and were generally miserable to play against. Zezel was also the Leafs' best faceoff man, with a knack for tying up the opposing centre and getting the puck with his feet.
When Cliff Fletcher tried to retool the Leafs after the 1994 loss to the Canucks, Zezel was one of those lost - he and Grant Marshall went to the Stars as compensation for the horrific signing of Mike Craig.
I'd heard a few years ago that he had a blood disorder that was pretty dangerous. Not that long ago, I saw him on OTR and he looked pretty good. This morning, there was the report that he was in the hospital in critical condition, and now it seems that life support has been removed.
Thoughts and prayers, Peter.
|1981-82||Don Mills Flyers||MTHL||40||43||51||94||36|
|1988-89||St. Louis Blues||NHL||52||17||36||53||27||-1||10||6||6||12||4|
|1989-90||St. Louis Blues||NHL||73||25||47||72||30||-9||12||1||7||8||4|
|1990-91||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||32||14||14||28||4||-7|
|1991-92||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||64||16||33||49||26||-22|
|1992-93||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||70||12||23||35||24||0||20||2||1||3||6|
|1993-94||Toronto Maple Leafs||NHL||41||8||8||16||19||+5||18||2||4||6||8|
|1995-96||St. Louis Blues||NHL||57||8||13||21||12||-2||10||3||0||3||2|
|1996-97||St. Louis Blues||NHL||35||4||9||13||12||+6|
|1996-97||New Jersey Devils||NHL||18||0||3||3||4||+4||2||0||0||0||10|
|1997-98||New Jersey Devils||NHL||5||0||3||3||0||+2|
|1997-98||Albany River Rats||AHL||35||13||37||50||18||+2|
- Traded to St. Louis by Philadelphia for Mike Bullard, November 29, 1988.
- Traded to Washington by St. Louis with Mike Lalor for Geoff Courtnall, July 13, 1990.
- Traded to Toronto by Washington with Bob Rouse for Al Iafrate, January 16, 1991.
- Transferred to Dallas by Toronto with Grant Marshall as compensation for Toronto's signing of free agent Mike Craig, August 10, 1994.
- Signed as a free agent by St. Louis, October 19, 1995.
- Traded to New Jersey by St. Louis for Chris McAlpine and New Jersey's 9th round choice (James Desmarais) in 1999 Entry Draft, February 11, 1997.
- Traded to Vancouver by New Jersey for Vancouver's 5th round choice (Anton But) in 1998 Entry Draft, February 5, 1998.
the HHOF take on Peter:
Peter Zezel was a high-scoring junior with the Toronto Marlboros when he was selected 41st overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft.
In his first NHL season, he established a Flyers rookie record of 46 assists while helping the team to a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. He was quickly regarded as one of the league's premier faceoff men and used his tenacious style to earn himself duty on the penalty-killing unit.
Zezel played a vital role in the resurgence of the Maple Leafs in the early 1990's as a checking centre and faceoff specialist, but he also added his share of timely goals using the soft hands and hard shot developed in his junior days.
He was awarded to Dallas as part of a compensation package in 1994 when the Leafs signed Dallas forward Mike Craig. The following year, Zezel signed as a free agent with St. Louis. After a short stint with the Blues, he was traded to New Jersey before being traded to Vancouver by the Devils on February 5, 1998.
Zezel left hockey in 1999 to focus on family issues. His two-year-old niece had succumbed to leukemia and he lost his passion for hockey. He is currently recovering from hemolytic anemia , a rare disorder in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them. Zezel was diagnosed with the condition in the summer of 2001. Once he has his condition under control he may even consider resuming his hockey career
Zezel's skills were not only limited to the ice. He saw action with the Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League and the North York Rockets of the Canadian Soccer League.