Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada
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Hockey DayPeterborough: Hockey Town Canada

Posted: Thursday, February 7, 2013 | 10:22 AM

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Roger Neilson, one of the famous coaches who have been with the Peterborough Petes. (Al Bello /Getty Images) Roger Neilson, one of the famous coaches who have been with the Peterborough Petes. (Al Bello /Getty Images)

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Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada is honouring one of Canada's most active hockey communities, Peterborough Ontario.  People who live there call it Hockey Town!

By Ed Arnold, special to CBC Sports in Peterborough, Ont.

The Peterborough Petes have been called a hockey factory and in some NHL circles nicknamed The Hockey Mafia.

It is Hockey Town Canada, maybe World (forgive us, Detroit), and this weekend is the home of Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada.

Few, if any, NHL teams have not had Peterborough connections since the Petes arrived in the city in 1956. In the hockey world, the Petes are as familiar as Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the CN Tower in Toronto.

The Petes are Peterborough's landmark. The city also has the famous tourist landmark Peterborough Lift Lock, the world's highest hydraulic lock on the Trent Severn Waterway, where Hockey Day in Canada will be centred Saturday afternoon, but the words from here that are most familiar throughout the world are: Peterborough Petes.

Peterborough has put more than 150 players into the NHL, two dozen coaches, more than 30 NHL captains, more than a dozen NHL scouts, six general managers and 11 Hockey Hall of Famers.

More NHLers have gone through Peterborough to get to the big league than any other community in the world.

The city was also the former home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and Philadelphia Flyers training camps.

The city is best known for the people who came through it as such as former Petes' coaches:

  • Teeder Kennedy
  • Scotty Bowman
  • Roger Neilson
  • Gary Green
  • Mike Keenan
  • Jacques Martin
  • Dave Dryden
  • Dick Todd

Then, there is the long list of players:

  • Danny Grant
  • Claude Larose
  • Mickey Redmond
  • Bill & Barc Plager
  • Eric & Jordan Staal 
  • Colin Campbell
  • Craig Ramsay
  • Bob Gainey
  • Doug Jarvis
  • Stan Jonathan
  • Kris King
  • Steve Larmer
  • Rick MacLeish
  • Larry Murphy
  • Chris Pronger
  • Steve Yzerman
  • Dave Reid
  • Greg Millen
  • Ron Tugnutt
  • Tie Domi
  • Mike Ricci
  • Cory Stillman
  • Corey Perry

Even Wayne Gretzky played three games here, as a 15 year-old (three assists). 

It is also the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame's first curator, Lefty Reid. The Petes are the second oldest continuous junior franchise in Canada (Regina Pats is first), started in 1956 by the Montreal Canadiens.

It is more than a factory for hockey players and coaches. Peterborough is the home of volunteers and fundraisers. The entire minor hockey is done by volunteers from managing to coaching. Nobody gets paid.

One of Ontario's largest atom hockey tournaments has been operated by volunteers for more than 50 years every January with more than 100 teams competing at various levels.

A Peterborough man, John Gouett, started oldtimers hockey here, yes even, oldtimers' hockey was started here in 1975. During a Young Canada Day hockey tournament in 1962 here, well-known hockey broadcaster Foster Hewitt said: "Peterborough has long been one of the keenest hockey centres in all of Canada."

This weekend in Peterborough it will be like every winter day here: Hockey Day in Canada.

Ed Arnold is the retired editor of The Peterborough Examiner and has written several books on Peterborough hockey, including a book on minor hockey entitled Whose Puck Is It Anyway? and Hockey Town, a look at NHL players and their lives before they got to Peterborough.

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