TSN and the Canadian Football League lost a great friend on Wednesday with the passing of Leif Pettersen.
Pettersen joined TSN as a game analyst for the CFL in 1986, the first year the network began televising CFL games.
"Leif was a great friend to CTV and TSN where, as an expert analyst, he was an integral part of our commentary teams for more than 20 years," said Rick Brace, President, Revenue, Business Planning and Sports, CTV Inc. "Always a quick wit and first in on a practical joke, he was fun to be around and added a great deal to our family. Our thoughts go out to his wife Lee and his daughters Kate and Ali."
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend and colleague Leif Pettersen, a consummate gentleman who was part of the TSN family for 19 years," added TSN President Phil King. "Leif was widely respected by his peers, fans and the entire CFL community for his passion and commitment to the game. Fans embraced Leif as a game analyst for the knowledge and enthusiasm he brought to each telecast, making a strong connection with viewers both as a broadcaster and former player. He had the innate ability to make those around him feel welcome and appreciated, all with a wonderful sense of humour. In honour of Leif, TSN is dedicating tonight's CFL doubleheader to his memory. We extend our sincere condolences to his entire family. He will be greatly missed."
A former CFL receiver, Pettersen was drafted by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1974 and played in the CFL for eight seasons. In 1976, Pettersen's Roughriders lost one of the most memorable Grey Cups when Ottawa's Tony Gabriel caught a long touchdown pass in the last minute to give the Rough Riders the win. However, even in a losing cause, that game was still a career highlight as Pettersen caught seven passes that day and received the game ball from then CFL Commissioner Jake Gaudaur.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing of my teammate and friend Leif Pettersen," said Riders President/CEO Jim Hopson. "I have memories of a young, fun guy who was always a positive force on the team, but more importantly great recent memories of a good friend who was continually kind and gracious in his support and happiness for the success of the Riders.
"He was absolutely delighted by the fact that Steve (Mazurak) and I were back with the team. It will not be the same going to Toronto and Leif isn't there to welcome us."
Traded to the Tiger-Cats in 1978, Pettersen played four more seasons in Hamilton and had another Grey Cup appearance in 1980. Pettersen had his most productive year in 1979, when he led the Eastern Conference in pass receptions, was an All-Star, and was runner up for the Schenley Award as Most Outstanding Canadian.
"Leif was a trusted friend and confidant," said Ticats President Scott Mitchell. "Always an optimist, he had an infectious attitude and demeanor and no one ever left a meeting or social occasion with him with anything but a smile and a positive outlook. He was truly one of the good guys in the sports business. Leif has been a great friend to the Ticats organization and on behalf of everybody within our organization I would like to extend our sympathies to all of the Pettersen family."
Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the CFL, expressed symapthies on behalf of the league.
"I want to express my sympathies to the family and many friends of Leif Pettersen," said Cohon. "As a player and television commentator, Leif was an obvious talent, a true professional. But it was his quick smile and seemingly effortless style that added an undeniable touch of class to everything he did, and in the process, to our league. Our thoughts are with his loved ones."
Keith Pelley, currently the President of CTV-Rogers Olympic Consortium and a former President of TSN as well as a former President and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts, said Pettersen was a winner.
"Leif was one of the most competitive people I have ever met," Pelley said. "He loved to win, whether it be in golf or football. The only thing he loved more than winning was his family. I will really miss him."
In addition to his role at TSN, Pettersen worked at RBC Sports Professionals & Private Client Group as Director of Business Development, managing banking and investments for more than 800 athletes, coaches and sports executives across North America.
Pettersen, a Toronto native, was a founding Governor of the Etobicoke Sports Hall of Fame.
In 2006, Pettersen was appointed as a Governor of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. He was a passionate Governor and was instrumental in the development of the Hall's Calgary Casino evening and also served as the Master of Ceremonies at other Hall activiites.
Pettersen's funeral will be held at Kingsway Lambton United Church on Tuesday, August 5.