The tributes have begun to arrive for Peter Zezel, the long time NHL veteran who passed away in Toronto on Tuesday at the age of forty four.
Many looked far beyond his skill on the ice and instead focused on his ability to understand the relationship between athlete and fan, his frequent appearances at team functions and a never say no attitude when it came to hospital visits or other events that involved young children.
His career spanned fifteen seasons and took him to seven teams around the NHL including stints with the Vancouver Canucks and his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.
He passed away on Tuesday in a Toronto hospital, suffering from a rare blood disorder known as hemolytic anemia, as was indicative of his nature, he donated his body for organ donation, allowing others to live thanks to his generosity.
From NHL coaches and managers to union reps and fellow team mates over the years, all joined in the chorus of recognition and praise for Zezel, who added a touch of dash to his class over the years.
Besides his exploits on the ice, he was an accomplished soccer player suiting up for the Toronto Blizzard and North York Rockets during his playing days, he also was featured in the hockey themed motion picture Youngblood, a 1986 feature which starred Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze.
But beyond those interesting sidelines to his life, it was his dedication to charity work and his love of hockey and coaching young people that is being reflected upon with his passing, a fitting testimony to his achievement in the short forty four years that he lived to the fullest.
Globe and Mail-- Peter Zezel passes away
National Post-- Former NHLer Zezel passes away in Toronto hospital
Philadelphia Inquirer-- Former Flyer Peter Zezel dies at 44
Toronto Star-- Former Leaf favourite Peter Zezel dies
Toronto Sun-- Hockey loses Zezel
Winnipeg Free Press-- NHL veteran Zezel, 44, dies after long illness
Vancouver Province-- Rare blood disorder kills former Canuck Peter Zezel
photo from Vancouver Province website