newjerseydevils.com – Former Devil Peter Zezel passed away Tuesday in Toronto at the age of 44.
Zezel had suffered from a rare and serious blood disease called hemolytic anemia for the last 10 years, and had been in critical condition in 2001.
CSNPhilly.com reported that Zezel was taken off life support Tuesday after going into a coma last week. He had undergone chemotherapy and suffered a brain hemorrhage after a recent spleen operation.
Zezel played 15 years in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils and the Vancouver Canucks. Originally drafted 41st overall by Philadelphia in the second round of the 1983 Entry Draft, Zezel played 873 regular season games, scoring 219 goals and 389 assists. Zezel retired from the NHL following the 1998-99 season.
The Devils acquired Zezel from St. Louis on February 11, 1997 in exchange for Chris McAlpine, and a last round pick in the 1999 Draft (James Desmarais). Zezel appeared in a total of 23 games with New Jersey during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons, recording six assists.
Following his NHL career, Zezel, a native of Toronto, remained active in the hockey community running a successful hockey school and coaching in the Greater Toronto Hockey League with the Don Mills Hockey Association. Zezel was also an active member of the NHL Alumni Association and completed countless hours of charitable work during and following his hockey career.
Zezel’s family released the following statement:
“Peter will forever be remembered as a great teammate and a wonderful individual, who touched the lives of many both on and off the ice. In his typical character of generosity, Peter has donated his organs through the Trillium Gift of Life Network. We would like to thank all of Peter’s friends and family for their support and we ask for privacy during this difficult time.”