A storied Ontario Hockey League franchise has gone back to its celebrated past to bring a Hall of Fame, Stanley Cup champion home to Peterborough.
Hockey legend Bob Gainey is returning to the Peterborough Petes of the OHL as a senior advisor.
The 64-year old Gainey is a Peterborough native and an OHL Petes alumnus.
After graduating from the Petes, Gainey went on to win the Stanley Cup five times as a world-class left winger with the Montreal Canadiens as part of a National Hockey League career en route to being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also won the Stanley Cup as general manager of the Dallas Stars.
Gainey joins long-time former Petes coach and general manager Dick Todd as an advisor with the OHL team that he played two seasons for before becoming a first-round NHL draft pick of the Canadiens back in 1973.
In his volunteer role with the Petes, Gainey — who went on to become a long-time, successful NHL coach and general manager following his Hall of Fame playing career — will consult all aspects of the OHL team from the board of directors to hockey operations to business staff.
Gainey, who has been out of hockey for a few years, said he had been looking for the right opportunity to get back into the game at a competitive level. He noted that he was not keen on rejoining an NHL club because of the travel that would be required.
So, when Petes president Dave Pogue approached Gainey about being involved with the OHL team that he once starred for as the consummate two-way left winger, a deal was quickly worked out.
“I’m fully invested,” Gainey said.
“I’m looking forward to the great success and the great evenings, the wins and the difficult losses that go along with every season. I’m willing to participate in any way that could benefit,” Gainey relayed at a recent press conference that signaled his return to the Petes.
“I have the time and I have a desire to participate in competition. The timing is right for me for those reasons,” Gainey said. “I think the timing is right for the Petes as they reorganize their team and head into a new season.”
The Petes missed the playoffs in the Eastern Conference of the OHL in 2017-2018 and holdover general manager Michael Oke has since hired a new head coach in Rob Wilson, who played for Peterborough during the 1988-1989 season.
Gainey sees good days ahead for the Petes.
“There are a lot of positive things happening with the Petes,” Gainey noted. “There is a new head coach and a refreshed coaching staff. There are young players who have been drafted and signed and young players who have been drafted and haven’t come on board, yet.
“All in all, I think Peterborough can look forward to having a strong junior team that can be competitive in their division in the OHL. I feel there are those indicators that would say this team is going to be a good team that will get back into the competition.”
As president of the Petes, Pogue said Gainey’s resume speaks for itself.
“I’m not sure there is anybody better. His experience in the hockey world is virtually unmatched,” Pogue said.
“He’s a Peterborough Petes alumnus, Peterborough native and he has a renewed interest in the team. All the stars sort of aligned.
“We’re always looking for that next way to improve. We have the excitement recently of bringing on a new coach who has brought in a fresh new approach. We have some new players coming into the fold. I think this is a perfect time for Bob to help us get to those next stages,” Pogue summed up.
As a player, Gainey’s years with the Petes (1971-1973) were a springboard to more than 40 years in the NHL as a player, coach and executive — and no less than six Stanley Cup rings. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
As for the Petes, they are the OHL’s oldest operating team, having joined the league back in 1956.
The Petes won the Memorial Cup in 1979 and were OHL champions as recent as 2006 but have been mostly irrelevant since.