To hear Pete Peeters speak is to hear the voice of a laid-back man who appreciated the sport of hockey but didn't always like the idea of it completely taking over his life.
He first entered the NHL's scouting radar while backstopping the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WCJHL between 1975 and 1977. He was not overpoweringly impressive but looked good enough to warrant his selection as the Philadelphia Flyers 9th choice of the 1977 Amateur Draft.
As a prelude to the big leagues, Peeters put in appearances with the Milwaukee Admirals of the IHL and the Maine Mariners of the AHL during the 1977-78 campaign. His arrival in Maine marked the first indication that the young netminder had some major-league skills. Midway through the season that followed, the Flyers called him up to the Spectrum for a short stint, but were flabbergasted to discover that their prospect didn't want to go. The call had come during the Christmas holidays and Peeters had his wife and parents lined up for a visit to Maine. The Flyers' management couldn't believe that a guy could be so close to the top and turn back. After a heated conversation at the Maine airport, Peeters finally consented to suit up for the Flyers.
His first showing in Flyer-land was adequate at best. He returned to Maine to complete the season and his career in the minors. From then on, Peeters would emerge as one of the top NHL goalies of his day.
In 1979-80, the Flyers and their goaltender got so hot that they set a league record unbeaten streak of 35 games. By season's end Peeters and his mates went toe-to-toe with the powerful New York Islanders in the Cup finals only to lose out four games to two.
Peeters played two more seasons in Philly but found the experience to be less than satisfying. The club used a three-goalie system that reduced Peeters' ice time and put a form of pressure on him that he didn't like. In 1982, the Flyers found themselves in need of a solid blueliner while the Boston Bruins were desperate for a new backstopper. A deal was worked out that sent Peeters to Boston for Brad McCrimmon.
In Beantown, Peeters got all the ice time he could handle. He found the atmosphere to be sufficiently relaxed to bring out the best in his game. By season's end, he corralled the most wins (40) and a Vezina trophy as the league's top stopper. He was voted the second-most valuable player behind Wayne Gretzky and came within one game of tying his coach, Gerry Cheever's, record of 32 straight appearances without a loss.
After such a momentous season, it became difficult for Peeters to have any hope of topping his own standard. He performed for parts of three more seasons with the Bruins but gradually lost the razor-sharp edge he'd originally brought to town.
In late 1985, he was traded to the Washington Capitals where continued to play solidly between the pipes, especially during the 1987-88 season when he led the league with a 2.78 goals-against average. In 1989-90, Peeters went full circle by returning to the Philadelphia Flyers where he rounded out his career in 1991.