The Peterborough Petes have had the good fortune to dress some of hockey’s greatest and most influential figures over their six decades of operation, including names like Steve Yzerman, Scotty Bowman, and Chris Pronger. However, none of them have given more to the organization than the now-retired Pat Casey. In fact, Casey was a part of the Petes’ organization when they were called the TPT’s and were an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. He originally came to Peterborough as the first round selection of the Montreal Canadiens, and would soon find his home in the Liftlock City.
“A hockey player just loves to play hockey and that was my intention when I first came to Peterborough when I was 17. However, I quickly learned that once you play for the Petes you are always a Pete,” Casey said.
While injuries and team struggles slowed his first two seasons with the Petes, he and the Maroon and White were able to enjoy a considerable amount of success in his third year.
“Being a player was great especially because in my third year we won the Ontario Championship, [against St. Michael’s] but lost in the Memorial Cup [against the Winnipeg Braves] and it still hurts,” Casey said with a hearty laugh.
Casey’s success in hockey was far from over as he would take his skills to Michigan Tech University and win an NCAA championship in 1961 and then a USHL Championship in 1965 with the Waterloo Blackhawks.
However, the Kirkland Lake native knew he wanted to return to Peterborough and did just that in 1970 as an accountant. Casey was still involved in hockey as a minor league coach in Peterborough until 1979, when he was brought on as Treasurer and eventually President. During his 37 years as an executive is when Casey would make his biggest impacts on the Petes’ organization.
“I was the one to suggest that our team give every player a scholarship to go school, whether they were drafted into the OHL first or last – everybody got the same. Other teams would only give scholarships to their first and second round players. I believe their thinking was that players taken in those spots were probably going to make the pros, so we won’t have to pay them,” Casey said. “I thought that wasn’t right and scholarships should be available for everybody. The 15th round player is as important as the first round player – they are all part of a team and those [later round guys] do a lot of things like checking and killing penalties, which are just as important as scoring goals.”
Casey truly cared about every player that passed through the organization and enjoyed watching them succeed.
“I love to see all the new players come in and watching their development. You develop a sense for who is going to be a player or who could be a better player. I just love that I can still be around hockey,” he said.
In fact, Casey’s value of every member of the Petes organization was exemplified by him spending time to get to know a journalism intern, yours truly, after the year-end banquet. The Petes are extremely proud to have had Pat Casey in the fold for so many years and his smile and upbeat personality will be truly missed. The Petes look forward to having him back in the stands in retirement.