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Peter Zezel Dead

Peter Zezel Dead

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Former New Jersey Devils forward Peter Zezel dead at 44by Rich Chere/The Star-Ledger Tuesday May 26, 2009, 12:19 PMKevin Larkin/Associated PressFormer Devil Peter Zezel, shown fighting for the puck in the 1997 Eastern Conference semi-final, died Tuesday after battling a blood disorder.Former NHL forward Peter Zezel, who played 23 games for the Devils in 1996-97 and 1997-98, died Tuesday in a Toronto hospital after battling a longtime blood disorder.Zezel, who fought hemolytic anemia for the past 10 years, recently underwent surgery to have his spleen removed and had also received chemotherapy treatments.

He was removed from life support before passing away.The NHL Players' Association issued the following statement:"It is with great regret and deep sadness that the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) announces the passing of former NHL forward Peter Zezel on Tuesday afternoon at the age of 44.

Zezel passed away following complications from a long-time blood disorder.

"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 the Philadelphia Flyers 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.

"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." Glenn Healy, NHLPA Director of Player Affairs, also issued statement on behalf of the NHLPA: "The hockey community has suffered a great loss today.

Peter was a friend and a great family man who was well liked by everyone he crossed paths with in our game.

Our thoughts are with Peter's family and many friends during this difficult time." The family has requested in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Peter Zezel's name to the James Birrell Fund at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

Zezel never scored a goal as a Devil.

He had three assists in 18 games during the 1996-97 season after being acquired on Feb.

11 of that season from the St.

Louis Blues for defenseman Chris McAlpine and a last-round 1999 draft pick (James Desmarais).

He played in two playoff games that season and did not score.The following season (1997-98), Zezel had three assists in five games before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks on Feb.

5 for a 1998 draft pick (Anton But).Zezel, who was born in Toronto, was the Philadelphia Flyers first pick (41st overall) in the 1983 entry draft.

He had a small role in the movie "Youngblood."GM Darryl Sutter has told reporters in Calgary that he is the best person to coach the Flames, which suggests that Brent Sutter is not a candidate at this time.The Calgary general manager, who fired Mike Keenan last week, said he is still considering others before officially taking the job himself."Right now I'm the best one," Darryl Sutter said about the coaching position.

"All the best coaches in the league are under contract."There's three guys who are excellent.

I won't tell you who they are, but then I'm fourth.

If I find out at the end of the search that I think I'm the best candidate, then I am the coach."Clearly, one of the three under contract is Brent Sutter, who has one season left with the Devils.

He is deciding whether or not to return for the 2009-10 season.

See more in Devils beat reporters blog
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