You may not know him personally. You might not have ever even met the man, but everyone has certainly heard his name. After all, the Elgar Petersen Arena is named after him, which is just one of the reasons why Trevor Lees has painted a hockey mask in his honour.
“I did it for the Broncos for their online fundraiser,” said Lees. “It’s a tribute to Elgar Petersen for all the work he’s done for the Broncos and the community.”
Anyone who isn’t a newcomer will have probably already heard all or at least most of this old story. Petersen was and still is a massive hockey supporter. He moved to the city in 1962 with his parents from Annaheim and got involved with the city’s minor hockey association. He helped out a few teams and then became the trainer and equipment manager for the Humboldt Broncos when they were formed in 1970. He became so deeply ingrained in the Bronco culture that he might as well have been their mascot. To credit his contributions over the years, they named the new arena after him and now Lees is doing the same.
“It’s also because he got inducted into the hockey hall of fame,” said Lees. “I’ve always wanted to do a tribute to Elgar since I’m from Humboldt and I remember him from when I was out at the rink. He was always supporting the young kids.”
Lees’ business, Heavy-T Designs, involves painting goalie masks. He’s the only artist in all of Saskatchewan certified to paint Bauer helmets and is authorized to paint CCM masks as well.
His story began on a farm near Humboldt when he was just a teenager. With no custom mask painters nearby or within budget, he decided to rely on his own artistic talent. Soon, a paintbrush led to an airbrush and it wasn’t long before he was painting everything from motorcycle tanks to snowmobile hoods. Now, more than 10 years after he began, his talent has produced Petersen’s face on a helmet.
“After I finished it, I went out to the home and showed it to Elgar and he signed it,” said Lees. “He was in pretty good spirits, so that was cool … He knew exactly how the Broncos are doing.”
At 79 years old (his birthday was just a couple weeks ago, the same day as Wayne Gretzky), he doesn’t get out as often as he used to, but that doesn’t stop him from keeping up to date on what’s going on. According to Audrey Kleiter, an activity coordinator at the home where Petersen is, she thinks he listens to everything on the radio. She was also there when Lees stopped by for his visit.
“He was very excited. He couldn’t believe that was his picture on the helmet,” she said. “His sister was sitting beside him and said, ‘that’s you.’ He had a big smile on his face, let me tell you.”
Kleiter said that Petersen was wearing his Bronco shirt and that he has all his hockey shirts on his wall, including the big one that was given to him. Before Lees left, Petersen asked when the Broncos would be playing again and said good luck to them.
“He’s still one of their biggest fans,” said Kleiter.