Russ Howard will forever cherish his final memory of Vic Peters.
It came in February in Grande Prairie, Alta., when he, Peters, Rick Lang and Dan Carey — all former Brier champions — posed for a photo with their daughters after they’d been named to the Scotties Tournament of Hearts second all-star squad. Although Peters had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2011, Howard said the veteran curler was upbeat and jovial.
On Monday, news surfaced that Peters, who defeated Howard to win the 1992 Brier, had died at the age of 60.
“He looked so good, that’s what’s haunting me,” Howard said during a telephone interview. “I hadn’t seen him in years and we were together for a few minutes so we could get our picture taken with the girls.
“We kibitzed a bit, shook hands and laughed . . . he looked great. A little over a month later, it’s pretty shocking. I didn’t really know until Sunday that he wasn’t doing well. We’re really going to miss him a lot.”
Peters was regarded as one of Manitoba’s “Big Three” along with Jeff Stoughton and Kerry Burtnyk during the 1990s. Stoughton captured three Brier titles (1996, 1999 and 2011) and two world crowns (1996, 2011) while Burtnyk was twice the Canadian victor (1981, ‘95) and ‘95 world champion.
“Vic was a fierce competitor, there’s no doubt about it,” Stoughton said. “He showed his emotions on the ice but he loved the game and enjoyed the game.
“If you beat him, he always congratulated you and was very humble in his victories. He was a perfect gentleman and a pleasure to play against. The curling community is going to miss a great, great person, that’s for sure.”
A fact not lost upon Howard, a two-time Canadian and world champion and the ‘06 Olympic gold medallist who has served as a curling commentator with TSN since 2001.
“He’s a really good player, I know that firsthand from the ‘92 Brier final,” said Howard, named a member of the Order of Canada in 2015. “He wasn’t afraid to take risks, he had all the shots and was a fierce competitor but if I made a shot — it could’ve been in the Brier final — he’d still say, ‘Nice shot,’ he was that type of guy.
“You see a lot of it now that people don’t want to give their opponent any credit, they think they’re losing their edge or something. But it wasn’t like that with Vic and I used to like that because I was taught the same way. He honoured the sport. The memories of playing guys like Vic is what I keep talking about in my old age.”
Former world champion Randy Ferbey paid tribute to Peters via Twitter.
“One of the all-time greats on and off the ice,” Ferbey tweeted. “Vic Peters, you will be missed.”
Canadian women’s champion Chelsea Carey, a Manitoba native, and her Calgary-based squad wore black ribbons last week at the world women’s curling event in Swift Current, Sask., in support of Peters.
Peters, a native of Steinbach, Man., was a three-time Manitoba champion (1992-93 and 1997) and finished third at the ‘92 world championship. Peters also reached the ‘97 Brier final, losing to Alberta’s Kevin Martin, and was inducted into the Manitoba Curling Hall of Fame in 2005.
Peters attended the Scotties event as his daughter, Elizabeth Fyfe, played second on Kerri Einarson’s provincial championship squad. Peters’ son, Daley, was also the Manitoba junior champion in 2004-05.
Stoughton said although he never had the chance to speak to Peters personally regarding the Scotties all-star team photo, it was plain to see a beaming father’s pride.
“It’s an awesome photo and it was a thrill for him,” he said. “You could tell he wanted to see his daughter play at the Scotties and I’m sure from the family’s perspective they were so happy he was able to do that.”