Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jeff Petry remembers succinctly the root cause of his decision to choose hockey over baseball.
“We had a new baseball coach and he didn’t want me to miss time for hockey camps and stuff like that,” Jeff Petry remembered.
Acquired Tuesday by Detroit from the Montreal Canadiens, Jeff knew the choice that he was going to make.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 15, 2023
“I always enjoyed hockey a little bit more,” Jeff admits.
It was making the choice that was going to prove the hardest part of the equation.
“It was tough for me to make the decision,” Jeff explained.
How do you tell your dad, a World Series-winning MLB hurler, that his sport wasn’t going to be your sport? That was the dilemma facing Jeff as he readied to broach the subject with his dad, former Detroit Tigers pitcher Dan Petry.
“It just came to a point where I guess I had to man up and go home and tell my dad I wanted to focus on my hockey career,” Jeff recalled.
He stressed over breaking his father’s heart. As things turned out, there was no cause for concern. Dan’s response was that Jeff should be pursuing his passion.
“He was great,” Jeff remembered of his dad’s response. “I should have done it a couple of years earlier.
“He never wanted to force us into anything.
Red Wings Petry A Late Bloomer On Ice
As Jeff was working his way up the hockey prospect ladder, all Dan could offer was encouragement.
“I don’t know anything (about hockey), so there was no pressure on him,” Dan said. “I didn’t know what to tell him other than to go out and play hard.”
Jeff was late in coming into prominence on the ice. In the fall of 2005, he bgean his senior year playing high school hockey in Michigan at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
By November, he was playing the USHL with the Des Moines Buccaneers. In February, Petry was selected to skate in the USHL Top Prospects Game. That spring, Petry was earning the No. 36 ranking among North American skaters from NHL Central Scouting.
“I was shocked,” Dan Petry recalled to the Windsor Star. “It all happened so quickly.
“He was going back for his senior year to play high school hockey and ended up in the USHL and I guess he impressed somebody.”
The Edmonton Oilers would select Jeff 45th overall in the 2006 NHL entry draft. He’s since played 864 NHL games for the Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The moment he suits up for his first Red Wings game, Jeff Petry ,35, will be part of history. He and his dad will become the first father-son combination to have played for two of Detroit’s major pro sports teams. Dan won 18 games for the 1984 World Series champion Tigers.
Today, he works in the broadcast booth on Tigers games for Bally Sports Detroit. As much as he loves watching Jeff skate up and down the rink, Dan readily acknowledges that he’s still far from a hockey maven. But he’ll always be his son’s No. 1 fan.
“I think he enjoys watching hockey because he knows nothing about it and I think that’s a little bit of the reason why I chose it, too,” Jeff said.
“It’s kind of my own thing.”