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Author Arnold reflects on Petes' landmark status

by Ed Arnold

Ed Arnold is the retired editor of The Peterborough Examiner who has written several books on Peterborough hockey, including "Whose Puck Is It Anyway?," as well as "Hockey Town," a look at NHL players and their lives before they got to Peterborough. He is presently embedded with the Peterborough Petes for an entire year, getting exclusive access behind the doors, where others have never been allowed, for a book commissioned by Harper Collins.

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario -- The Peterborough Petes have been called a hockey factory, and in some NHL circles, they're nicknamed "The Hockey Mafia." It is Hockey Town, Canada, maybe World (forgive us, Detroit), and this weekend the city is the home base for CBC's Hockey Day in Canada.

Few, if any, NHL teams have gone without a Peterborough connection since the Petes arrived in 1956. The Petes in the hockey world are as familiar as Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the CN Tower in Toronto.

The Petes are Peterborough's landmark.

The city also has the famous tourist attraction, the Peterborough Lift Lock, the world's highest hydraulic lock on the Trent Severn Waterway, where Hockey Day in Canada will be Saturday afternoon.

But the words from here that are most familiar throughout the world are "the Peterborough Petes."

Peterborough has put more than 150 players into the NHL, with two dozen coaches, more than 30 NHL captains, more than a dozen NHL scouts, six general managers and 11 Hockey Hall of Famers. More NHL players have gone through Peterborough to get to the League than any community in the world.

The city also is 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, including former Petes coaches Teeder Kennedy, Scotty Bowman, Roger Neilson, Gary Green, Mike Keenan, Jacques Martin, Dave Dryden and Dick Todd; players Danny Grant, Claude Larose, Mickey Redmond, the Plager brothers Bill and Barclay, the Staal brothers Eric and Jordan, 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 and Corey Perry -- even Wayne Gretzky played three games here as a 15-year-old (he had three assists).

It also is the home of the Hockey Hall of Fame's first curator, Lefty Reid.

The Petes are the second-oldest continuous junior franchise in Canada (the Regina Pats are 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 entirety of 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 old-timers' hockey here; yes, even, old-timers' hockey was started here in 1975.

During a Young Canada Day hockey tournament in 1962, well-known CBC broadcaster Foster Hewitt said, "Peterborough has long been one of the keenest hockey centers in all of Canada."

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

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