A local legend who was the namesake of Humboldt’s arena has died.
Elgar Petersen passed away at his Cudworth nursing home on Nov. 3 at the age of 82.
Jamie Brockman, the Bronco’s president, said Petersen meant a lot to his team.
“Elgar meant everything,” he said. “He was the heart and soul of our organization for a lot and lot of years – basically since the beginning. He wasn’t involved with us the last couple of years because of his health but he was always there in spirit.”
“He not only meant a lot to the team but to the community,” said Rob Muench, Humboldt’s mayor. “What he did for the Broncos he also did for minor hockey and minor ball in the summer.”
Petersen was born on Jan. 26, 1936 in Annaheim. In 1962 he moved into Humboldt with his parents and became involved in minor hockey. When the Broncos were founded in 1970, Petersen became the team’s trainer and equipment manager.
In the winter, Petersen would help fetch equipment, clean clothes and fetch water.
“I remember him being down at the rink lots and if you couldn’t get your skates quite tight enough, he was there to help you out, whether it was public skating, playing hockey or whatever,” Muench said.
In the summer, he would be at the ball diamonds, helping with equipment or sitting with players.
“His spirit and passion for minor sports and the Humboldt Broncos was contagious,” Brockman said. “He was just fun to be around. You could always joke with him and he’d always put a smile on his face and a smile on your face. He was just that type of individual. He would always leave a lasting impression on so many people that came through our city and our organization.”
Muench said Petersen was known for his gruff voice, big hugs and whisker rubs.
“If he’d see you, he’d give you a hug and even talking to a lot of the players over the years, when he gave you a whisker rub, you felt it and you usually walked away with a red cheek.”
Muench also told a story passed on to him by a play-by-play announcer. During a championship series in the 1980s in Selkirk, Man., Petersen wasn’t allowed to sit on the players bench. The Broncos scored an empty-netter and the announcer heard a commotion. He looked down and saw Petersen. He later asked Petersen what was going on.
“Elgar said, ‘when we scored that empty-net goal, I said to the Zamboni driver: you might as well shut down the [ice] plant because you’re not going to need it this year.’”
The driver wasn’t pleased with that remark.
According to Journal archives, in 1999, a town employee named Neil Britz suggested to council they name what was then called the Uniplex Arena after Petersen. After going through the proper channels, council agreed and the arena was renamed in 2000.
“I think it was really fitting,” Muench said. “It’s our arena and that’s where you think of when you think of Elgar.”
Despite being an inductee of the Humboldt Sports Hall of Fame and the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, Petersen preferred to have the spotlight on the players. When the arena was named after him, the Journal quoted him saying, “I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. Now let’s enjoy the hockey game.”
Petersen volunteered at the arena as long as he could until his health started to fail him.
“Elgar is going to be missed,” Brockman said. “Even though he wasn't physically with the team he was always there in spirit. People that knew him knew he was there in spirit. We have the Elgar Petersen Arena named after him and that will be a lasting legacy for Elgar.”
Muench gave his condolences on behalf of the citizens of Humboldt.
“He was a pretty special person and he meant a lot to the community.”
Written with files by Jodi Schellenberg, Humboldt Journal