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11-07-2010, 04:49 PM
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Peter Zezel, C

- 5'11, 220 lbs
- Stanley Cup Finalist (1985, 1987)
- Advanced to 2nd round 7 times and 3rd round 4 times
- 6 54+ point seasons (and 2 more 62/63-point seasons cut short by injury)
- Career Adjusted +32
- 53.5% on faceoffs in his last NHL season, the first that they began tracking

Originally Posted by
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. In the summer of 2001, he was diagnosed with hemolytic anemia, a rare disorder in which red blood cells are destroyed faster than the body can replace them.

...On May 26, 2009, at age 44, Peter Zezel lost his battle to his rare blood disorder.
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
Peter Zezel carved out a nice career as solid two way second or third line center.

Though somewhat on the small side, Zezel was extremely strong, especially his lower body. He was great along the boards as he was so hard to knock down. He was also an agile skater with great balance, and his background as a soccer player (he played with the Toronto Blizzard of the NASL and the North York Rockets of the CSL) gave him an extra advantage over most hockey players - great puck skills with his feet. In the corners and in faceoff scrums, Zezel would go in and use his strength and balance to tie up his opponent, and then kick the puck to an open teammate.

Though known best as a defensive oriented checking center, Zezel had some good offensive talents. He had a strong and accurate wrist shot and slap shot, but preferred to set up an open teammate than shoot the puck himself. He was very confident with the puck. His offensive totals were hindered by his commitment as the team's checking center, but twice Peter scored 72 points. In 1986-87 with Philadelphia when he finished behind Tim Kerr for the team goal and point scoring lead. In 1988-89 and in 1989-90 Peter enjoyed his longest run as an offensive player, often centering Brett Hull in St. Louis.

An excellent faceoff man, Zezel was a crunch time player. Some questioned his inconsistent intensity, but he became a favorite of Mike Keenan, the most demanding coach of the day. Keenan inherited a young Zezel in Philadelphia and later recruited his services in St. Louis and Vancouver.

...Through he played in a career-high 79 games in 1985-86, he took a step backwards like many NHL sophomores do. He recorded a career-best plus-27 rating but scored "only" 17 goals and 54 points. Because of the Flyers' great depth he had to accept a role on the third line and played well as a checking center, helping to mould his career.

In 1986-87, Peter stepped up his game by establishing career-highs with 33 goals and 72 points. He had a strong playoff as a checking forward, scoring 3 goals and 13 points in a 25 game run that saw the Flyers push the mighty Edmonton Oilers to 7 games in one of the greatest Stanley Cup finals ever.

A great special teams player, Zezel added a career-high 14 power play goals in 1987-88. However he only add 8 even strength goals for a decline of 11 goals from the previous year. His point total also dropped, by a total of 15 points.

...Fully recovered from his fractured ankle, Zezel finished the 1990-91 season strongly. Between the two teams in 1990-91, Peter reached the 20-goal mark for the fifth consecutive season. However Zezel's production declined for much of his stay in Toronto. From 1991-94, he registered 36 goals and 64 assists in 175 games for the Leafs. A variety of small but nagging injuries (most notably a back problem that forced him to sit half of the 1993-94 season) didn't help him much...
Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier
First and foremost I will always remember Peter Zezel for his faceoff expertise and sound defensive game, his reliable play every night and his tough though clean approach to the game. No wonder why he was one of Mike Keenan's favourite players.

I will also remember Peter Zezel as the heartthrob in Philadelphia. Girls swooned after him. His cool hair even landed him a small role in the Hollywood hockey movie Youngblood. He certainly would not look out of place beside Rob Lowe or Patrick Swayze.

Most will remember Zezel as a Flyer or a Maple Leaf, where he spent the bulk of the best years of his career. Because he was such a valuable player even when he was no longer able to contribute offensively, he bounced around the league a lot in later years, with two stops in St. Louis as well as in Washington, Dallas, New Jersey and Vancouver.

But I also remember Zezel as a great person. I had the chance to watch Zezel closely in his final season and a half with the Vancouver. I remember seeing glimpses of the Zezel I watched in Philly and Toronto, but clearly something was weighing on his mind. That was confirmed late in the season when he left on a personal leave. It turned out he desperately wanted to be with his family after his two year old niece had died of leukemia.

Zezel never came back, opting to be with his family. He played senior hockey in Ontario and coached youth hockey and started up a hockey school in Toronto. Rumor had it he would return to the NHL only if he could play for the Leafs. But he did not want to be away from his family any longer.
Originally Posted by
Zezel embraced the role of checking centre, relentless penalty killer and face off specialist in Toronto.
Originally Posted by The Greatest Moments and Players Of The Philadelphia Flyers
considering that he played only 4 1/2 seasons in Philadelphia, Peter Zezel enjoyed one of the most upbeat relationships with local fans of anyone who skated at the spectrum. Part of his appeal was his enduring work ethic and the other part was his delightful personality. Anyone who watched the center play or whomever conversed with him came away convinced that this was a very good man and a darn good stick handler to boot.

Clarke: "when Peter first took the ice is a flyer, some of us remarked that he reminded us of Brian Trottier with his build. As for the other parts of his game, we could tell right away that he was very bright and saw the whole ice."

Zezel had come to hockey by way of soccer. He was an expert booter and played professionally for Toronto of the North American soccer league… In time, he managed to incorporate kick work into his on ice repertoire. It would become a permanent part of Peter's game and particularly advantageous during face-offs.

Coach Mike Keenan found Zezel's teamsmanship a primary asset. During a game with Los Angeles, the flyers were protecting a one goal lead when the Kings pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. Defenseman Mark Howe flipped the puck from his own goal line out of the flyers zone and towards the open net. Zezel was close enough to the puck to add an extra tap in and get the credit for the red light himself. Instead, he resisted the temptation and Howe wound up with the goal. "The play was typical of Peter's unselfishness. It was a comment on the type of person he is and always has been."

Zezel played 79 games in his second year and was no less effective. His plus minus climbed to +27 and his overall ice presence impressed coach Mike Keenan who favored Peter's grit. "He was very talented," said Keenan.

… At one point he had become such a fan favorite in Philly that he had to be accompanied by a bodyguard when he went grocery shopping. He frequently paid people to buy clothes for him while he stayed in the safety of his home. At 5'11'', 200 pounds, Zezel emerged as one of the league's top face-off specialists. "I try to use my feet a lot," he said, "and I cheated a bit."

"I was not a number one center," he admitted. "I liked the role of being a good face-off man and a little bit of everything. I wasn't going to be a 40 goal man."… He was likeable wherever he played but never more so than when he wore the orange and black at the spectrum.
Originally Posted by Maple Leaf Legends
midway through the 1990 – 91 season he was acquired by the leafs with Bob Rouse.… Leaf fans certainly like Zezel's approach to the game. Not tall but extremely sturdy at 220 pounds, he was difficult to knock down. He used his stocky body to push opponents off the puck and could make dangerous passes once he got a hold of it. He was more a playmaker than a goalscorer and was never afraid to battle for a loose puck.… His creativity kept him in the NHL for his first few years, but as he got older, Zezel changed his game to become more of a checker and top face-off man. When Pat Burns became leafs coach in 1992, he found an excellent role for Zezel by putting him in the middle of his checking line. The line clicked and was soon getting plenty of ice time, often against the best opposing line.… In the 1993 playoffs his work in the face-off circle was nothing short of spectacular and his ability to check in opposing center was a work of art. His soccer background made him one of the few players in the league who could control the puck with his feet..
Originally Posted by Players – The Ultimate A-Z Guide of Everyone Who Has Ever Played in the NHL
the sturdy center had his best year in 86-87, not coincidentally when the flyers went finals. He was a terrific second or third line center, good at both ends of the ice, and tenacious on the puck and away from the play. He was considered a character player…
Originally Posted by The Hockey News 1990 Yearbook
fantastic on face-offs – here are 15 guys you'd want to have on the ice in the last minute of play to take a crucial face-off: ...... 15. Peter Zezel.
Originally Posted by Return to Glory: The Leafs From Imlach to Fletcher
Fletcher had to submit a "protected list", exposing all but 15 eligible players in the Leaf system who were under contract: Potvin, Gill, Ellett, Lefebvre, Macoun, Rouse, Manderville, Pearson, Zezel, Anderson, Andreychuk, Baumgartner, Clark, Eastwood, Gilmour. (22 players were unprotected including solid NHLers Puppa, Mironov, Cullen, Foligno, Krushelnyski, Osborne. This demonstrates Zezel's importance to a franchise even as his offense was declining.)

… Then came the winner, near the end of the period, On the harmless looking play. As the puck rolled in behind the Canuck goal, McLean came out and beat Berg to the puck. He cleared it off the boards, but Zezel knock the puck down in midair at the face-off circle and one timed it before McLean could get back. The leafs won it 3 to 2.

Zezel had proven his ability to raise his game another level for the playoffs. He would be missed more than one might have thought.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1986
Zezel has 100 point potential
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1987
solid first two seasons for flyers at their center behind Dave Poulin and Ron Sutter... Needs to be pushed at times; Mike Keenan pushed and Zezel usually responded... scored a hat trick to keep flyers alive in game four of Ranger series, although they lost in game five...
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1986-87
Zezel is a fine skater, fast on his feet and very agile. He can stop and start instantly and the same holds true for his ability to change direction. He is also one of the best in the league at playing the puck with his skates, a skill no doubt transferred from his experience playing soccer. Zezel can kick the puck up to his stick or take it off the boards with his skates with exceptional quickness. Zezel keeps his head up as the play moves around him and that just adds to his good hockey sense and anticipation. He is very aware of where he is on the ice and is especially good at using his teammates. In fact, Zezel probably looks to his teammates a little too much; he should develop a little selfish streak can take greater advantage of the opportunities he gets. He has a good shot, quick to the net though not all that hard, and he can score from a distance. He is good at getting the defenseman to set himself as a screen, and that helps Zezel on his longshots.

Zezel is a very physical player, always hitting at both ends of the ice and he hits hard, carrying a lot of bulk on his relatively small frame. Zezel works very well to the side of the opposition net, planting his skates and sticking his butt into the defenseman covering him, thus not allowing the opposing player to get at the puck, or even to hold Zezel's arms. He has excellent balance and is very strong on his skates… Zezel is a very hard worker and has matured well during his first two years in the league. He should only get better as his experience grows. He wants to be the best and works at it, Peter gets into funks where his attitude and his drive suffer.
Originally Posted by The Complete Handbook Of Pro Hockey 1988
he last alphabetically but first in the hearts of Philly's female fans… Took giant strides toward stardom last season… Strong skater and deft passer, he reminds some people of a young Brian Trottier the way he finishes his checks. "When I bump, I play better," he claims…
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1987-88
Zezel is an excellent skater. He's fast on his feet, agile and strong. He can stop, start and turn on a dime.… His foot skills allow him another dimension of control when he takes the puck off the boards, and also makes him dangerous when the puck seems to have gotten away from him. Zezel is improving as a playmaker by becoming more patient… His anticipation and hockey sense help him there, just as they do with his checking; he can be a fine defensive center.… He is also become one of the league's premier divers, and will fall to the ice shamelessly in search of an opposition penalty… He is also a cheap shot artist and will do whatever he can to get under an opponents skin and then skate away. He carries a lot of muscle and bulk on his frame, and Zezel hits hard. His size, strength, and above all, balance allow him to plant himself to the side of the opponents net… He is a hard worker, though just the slightest touch inconsistent, and he continues to mature into a fine NHL player… Tremendously popular in Philadelphia… His strong play helps make the flyers one of the league's deepest and strongest teams down the middle.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1988-89
the power of Zezel's game is rooted in his feet.… His increased confidence comes from seeing patience pay off, and knowing that looking the ice over and not just making the first play he sees, makes for scoring opportunities. Zezel has a good selection of shots. His wrist shot as quickly released and generally accurate, forcing the goaltender to make a save. His finesse talents alone are enough to force the opposition into taking penalties, but Zezel augments that penalty drawing ability with some of the league's best dives.… Though gifted in the finesse areas, Zezel is also a good physical player he is not above putting his stick into the opposition. He does not back up that stick work by fighting.… It's not that Zezel isn't a hard worker, because he is. Or that he's unwilling to correct physical aspect of his game. Even Zezel himself admitted he didn't feel right and sought the services of a sports psychologist last season.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1990-91
Zezel is a skilled finesse player, and primary among his physical finesse skills is his footwork and skating… Zezel uses his feet better than any player in the NHL, especially on face-offs, where he will tie up the opposition stick before kicking the puck to one of his own wingers. But he's an excellent skater on top of the fancy footwork, possessing speed, quickness, agility, and strength. He's got excellent one step moves, is hard to knock off the puck and has a very tight turning radius, and he complements his skating with a strong degree of hockey sense and play reading ability. Zezel shows poise with the puck and books to use his teammates, and he can be fairly creative in his passing. His hand skills are strong. He carries or passes the puck equally well… He can also be a strong defensive player because of his skills. Those skills make him a PowerPlay regular. Balance is the key to Zezel's physical game, for it allows him to plant himself and make plays despite checking in body position. Strength of course is the key here, and Zezel can get off shots while being checked, and he uses those assets in his own hitting… As long as he keeps his intensity level high, his play ranks accordingly. It's not that Peter isn't a hard worker or that he doesn't care, because he is and he does – he just needs to maintain his focus from night to night and shift to shift.…
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1991-92
Zezel combines toughness with excellent foot and hand skills… Zezel can juke with or without the puck. He is poised under pressure and a good passer. He draws the attention of one or two defenders and find the open man. Zezel can score from all areas of the ice. He skating and lower body strength powers his slapshot. He has very strong wrist and is accurate with his shot. Zezel excels on both special teams, but his finesse skills really make him an asset on the power play. He gets into a tripod stands and is very difficult to budge from the front of the net. He is a very good for checker because of his balance and strength. He will aggravate opponents by using his stick and then going and drawing a penalty within artistically enhanced fall… Zezel is a crunch time player whose only question mark is his inconsistent intensity. He is shown a good attitude since the move to Toronto.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1992-93
Zezel profited tremendously from the addition of Doug Gilmour to the leafs lineup last season. Gilmour is a much better passer and touch player than Zezel is, and attempting to provide those assets was strained for someone who was more of a number two or three and then a number one. He is the key face-off guy. He's strong on his skates without being speedy or flashy about it. He gets where he wants to go, for checks well, pursues the puck. He has good power and balance, he drives into the draws, then drives into the center against whom he faced off.… A solidly built player who does not get pushed around… Defenseman find it difficult to knock him down… Intensity and focus are problems for Zezel. Inconsistency is a problem for Zezel. Hockey sense is a problem for Zezel. Effort is NOT a problem for Zezel.
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1993-94
Zezel has been traded for some big names… Moves with great ease of motion, whether covering his check or breaking away from one. His low center of gravity and husky physique make it nearly impossible to dislodge from his feet. A superior face-off man, Zezel can control the puck, skate with it, or find his teammates with excellent passes. Last year he notched his 500th NHL point, still he is known for his defense… Considered something of a cheap shot artist in some corners, Zezel runs the constant risk of running into someone who owes him one… Zezel seems to have settled into his role as the team's premier defensive forward… An excellent character player, Zezel is an important part of the Toronto scheme.

WILL – win with defense
CAN'T - afford more injuries
EXPECT – excellent checking
DONT EXPECT - Mr. nice guy
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1993-94
Zezel is a checking forward who can pick up his offensive chances. While his major duty these days is to shut down the other team's top scoring lines, he can also provide some offense of dazzle of his own by polishing off a 2-on-1 or scoring with his powerful shot off a breakaway. The bonus to playing against other team scoring lines is that they are prone to week defensive game, and Zezel has the hand skills, quickness and anticipation to cash in on his offensive chances. He has a knack for big, timely goals. Zezel is dominant on face-offs. The skill makes him an excellent penalty killer, since winning and draw can quickly eat seconds off the clock. Zezel is a choppy skater, but he is tenacious and gets where he has to go.

Zezel is not merely intense: he's wired. If anything, he gets too intense and will sometimes overdo things and take bad penalties. He is compact, solid player who does not get pushed around. Zezel has become a bit injury prone in recent years, which makes them reluctant to initiate physical play as often as the coaches wish he would.

Zezel has evolved into an excellent checking forward. He has always worked hard, but now he is working much smarter than he did in the past. He is a strong force and a major part of Toronto's resurgent season.
Originally Posted by Hockey Scouting Report 1994 – 95
injuries forced Zezel to the sidelines for more than half the season, and it was a type of injury that prevented him from doing much off ice work, so he was never at his peak all year. The wear and tear are starting to show on Zezel, but he has a bulky frame with thick, soccer player legs, and he appeared to be recovering well from his back problems late in the season. He has to play a physical game to be effective.
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1995 – 96
Zezel has evolved into a grinding two-way player. He is a Husky skater who hits hard and played outstanding defense.… A very reliable player who knows the game… Has always performed well under pressure… Remains one of the most respected defensive forwards in the game

WILL - play hard-nosed hockey
DON'T EXPECT - a timid skater
Originally Posted by Hockey Almanac 1996 – 97
Zezel skates well, hits hard, and plays a stifling defensive game. Once upon a time, he showed signs of becoming a legitimate scoring threat. His scoring talents took a backseat to two-way, grinding style, however. Much of his career has been spent as a checking center.… Though he's moved around the league quite a bit, he's usually the player another team badly wants, rather than the one his current employers want to get rid of.

WILL - check ferociously
EXPECT - top face-off man

Last edited by seventieslord: 11-20-2010 at 10:37 PM.
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