By Darryl G. Smart
On the ice, Colin Campbell was known as a hard-nosed leader for the Peterborough Petes. And on Saturday, the Ontario Hockey League team honoured him by retiring his number.
Before the Petes 4-0 win over the Oshawa Generals Hockey Club, the Tillsonburg resident that is now the NHL’s executive vice-president of hockey operations became the ninth player in franchise history to have his banner raised to the Peterborough Memorial Centre rafters.
“Being a Peterborough Pete is like playing for an Original Six franchise in the National Hockey League,” Campbell said prior to the game. “The Petes competed when I played against cities like the Montreal Jr. Canadiens, Toronto Marlboros, Ottawa 67’s, Hamilton, Kitchener — all very large centres. The Petes from a city of 50,000 were always combative and competitive and finished near the top. I think what is really refreshing is you guys are here again.”
Campbell played for the Petes from 1970-73, winning an OHA title in 1972. He was the co-captain the TPT Petes with Doug Gibson during the 1972-73 season.
“There are so many great players who have gone through here and great coaches that to have this honour bestowed on me I thank you but I don’t really deserve it,” Campbell said.
Campbell went on to play 11 years of professional hockey, including 636 NHL games. He was an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings and also with the New York Rangers, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1994. He was Rangers head coach for four years before joining the NHL’s hockey operations department.
Campbell is the ninth alumnus recognized joining Bob Gainey, Larry Murphy, Chris Pronger, Mickey Redmond, Steve Yzerman and coaches Scott Bowman, Dick Todd and Roger Neilson.