He’s a pillar of the Humboldt community.Elgar Petersen has become a permanent fixture in the City of Humboldt because of his support of many different hockey and baseball teams in the community, and although everyone living in the area has heard Petersen’s name, not everyone knows why he is so important to the players.
Born in Annaheim, Sask., on January 26, 1936 (he shares a birthday with Wayne Gretzky), Petersen moved to Humboldt with his parents in 1962 and became involved with the city’s minor hockey association, where he did whatever he could to help various teams.
When the Humboldt Broncos were founded in 1970 he became the team’s trainer and equipment manager, and he’s been a permanent part of the Humboldt sports community ever since.
In the winter he can be found at the arena which bears his name, helping players with equipment or even fetching them water, while in the summer he spends his time at the baseball diamonds, helping with equipment or just sitting with the players on the bench.
“I think it is more than hockey,” said Aaron Lukan, a Humboldt Broncos supporter. “You see him on the ball diamonds too. He’s just always willing to help out, always there and doing whatever he can to help the team. He just cares so much and I think that really resonates with the players.”
His dedication to the game rubs off with the players.
“The players just take to him,” said Lukan. “It’s hard to explain why. I think they just see his total dedication and love for the game.”
Curtis Knight, who played for the Broncos in the early 1990s, remembers meeting Petersen when he first joined the team.
“I made the Humboldt Broncos as an 18-year-old, and he’s been one of my partners in crime ever since,” said Knight. “I thought he was a caring guy, had a heart of gold and never had a bad word to say about anybody.”
For Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ head coach and general manager, Petersen’s biggest contribution has been the impact he has made on the hundreds of players who have worn the green and gold jerseys over the past 42 years.
“The players really enjoy having him around,” said Brockman.
Although Petersen is getting older and doesn’t have the energy he used to, it has not stopped him from spending all his free time at the arena.
“He’s there from nine in the morning to midnight,” said Lukan. “Maybe not so much now, because he’s slowed down a bit (as he has gotten older).”
In honour of his dedication to hockey in Humboldt and what he means to the city’s hockey culture, the Broncos’ home rink was rechristened Elgar Petersen Arena in September 2000.
The idea for naming the arena after Petersen came from Neil Britz, a town employee at the time.
“Who else could they name it after?” Britz was quoted as saying in the September 14, 2000 edition of the Humboldt Journal. “For all the work he has done, he deserves it.”
Britz suggested the name change to town council in the spring of 1999. It took about a year of deliberations and research before the name was approved.
According to Ross Milthorp of the Humboldt Parks and Recreation department in the September 14, 2000 Journal, the employees of the city were all enthusiastic about the idea, but they had to go through the proper channels.
Once the idea was approved by town council in the spring of 2000, they decided to hold off with an official celebration until the fall, during the Broncos’ home opener.
The city held a big celebration, complete with a presentation, fireworks and a social after the game.
For those that grew up in Humboldt, it was impossible not to be touched in some way by Petersen; whether it was tying skates for the young players to giving advice to the Broncos he always found a way to get involved.
“It’s just the dedication and commitment he gives every team in Humboldt – and I mean every team,” said Knight. “Every minor hockey team, home or away, he was always there.”
Despite the numerous accolades and honours – he was an inductee into the Humboldt and District Sports Hall of Fame in 1998 – Petersen is a man who shies away from the spotlight, choosing to turn the focus to the players on the ice, or on the diamond.
On the night the arena was renamed for him in 2000, he gruffly said, “I want to thank everyone for coming out tonight. Now let’s enjoy the hockey game.”
But while he may remain humble, other are quick to point out and recognize the impact he has had on Humboldt.
“Elgar Petersen has done many great things for the hockey community and has rightfully been recognized for his accomplishments,” said Knight. “It is great to see that his volunteerism and dedication has not gone unnoticed.”