Retro Rewind: Peter Lee
Sunday, 12 August 2007
Originally published in Prospects Hockey in 2005
By Lucas Aykroyd
Thirty years ago, nobody was a bigger deal in Ottawa than Peter Lee, except maybe Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Lee was named the 1975-76 Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year after tallying a then-OMJHL record 81 goals for the Ottawa 67s. Today, he remains the OHL’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 213 career markers.
“I grew up playing hockey a couple of hundred miles from Quebec City,” Lee said. “It was Guy Lafleur time with the Montreal Canadiens, so I idolized him as a kid, along with Jean Beliveau and Yvan Cournoyer, when the Habs were winning their Cups.”
Lee partially attributes his offensive prowess to the era in which he played: “I loved to score. I started out playing on outdoor rinks with my two brothers. The game was more open in those days. Today teams adjust so quickly with video and computer updates, whereas back then it took a day or two before adjustments were made.”
Notable 67s teammates included Lee’s center, Larry Skinner, and future NHL stars like Doug Wilson and Bobby Smith. Another big influence was coach Brian Kilrea, who was just starting his legendary career. “You could already see Brian’s offensive flair,” said Lee. “He wanted speed and skill. Optimally, I wanted to go to the net and score goals and win games. It was a perfect fit for me.”
The 5-9, 180-pound forward was drafted 12th overall by the Canadiens in 1976. But due to Montreal’s depth, Lee was dispatched to the AHL’s Nova Scotia Voyageurs. “I knew if I worked hard, they wouldn’t bury me,” said Lee. “Either I’d play with the big team or they’d move me for somebody else.” In November 1978, he was dealt to Pittsburgh with Peter Mahovlich in exchange for Pierre Larouche and future considerations.
Lee played six seasons for the Penguins, accumulating 241 points in 431 games. But after falling out of favor there, he decided he wouldn’t play in the AHL again. Lee boldly set off for the German League, winning four straight titles with Dusseldorf from 1990 to 1993. He returned to the 67s as a coach for two seasons. Then it was back to Germany, where he played till age 41. Since 1997, Lee has been the GM of the Berlin Eisbären. He also serves as an assistant coach for Switzerland at the World Championships.
“I don’t get back to Ottawa that much, but I always check out how the 67s are doing on the Internet,” Lee said. “As an alumnus, you always hope they get to the Memorial Cup.”