Flint hockey legend Bob Perani passes away - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Flint hockey legend Bob Perani passes away

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(04/15/12) - Flint hockey legend, Bob Perani, died at the age of 69 on Sunday.

Former Flint Generals players report Perani died while on an international flight.

Few other details about his death are known. But we do know quite a bit about his life.

He was born in 1942 in Rome, Italy.

Then in the late 1960's, Perani and his wife Kris moved to Flint and never left.

Perani was a goalie, and joined the Flint Generals in 1969. He played five seasons with the team before retiring from the sport he loved.

His life with hockey was far from over.

"He was good at hockey, but I think he was a better businessman," said Jim Duhart, who played with the Generals in the 90s, and from 2000-2005.

Perani owned some pizza shops before opening 'Bob Perani's Sports Shop' in 1976. It's now called Perani's Hockey World - and is considered the largest independent hockey equipment distributor in the world.

In a 2007 interview, Perani said he built the business with his wife. "Kris actually got out of the nursing because I needed a lot of help as far as somebody to look after the books and the organization."

Also in 2007, former General Bobby Reynolds said Perani's wife and two kids were the center of his life. "He was one of those guys that wants to cook out every Sunday and have his whole family and grandkids."

But it wasn't just his family that he provided for at times.

"A real sincere person, I consider him the guy that would give you the shirt off his back," said Lorne Knauft, who started his career with the Generals in 1993.

"If you didn't have money, he'd find a way to get you the equipment needed, and you always left with a smile every time you dealt with him," Duhart added.

In 2006, he lost his wife Kris when she lost her battle with cancer.

The following year, as part of the 'Perani Group', he bought the Flint Generals.

Perani, in a 2007 interview, said getting more involved helped him cope with Kris' loss. "It's really kept me busy, which has really taken my mind off of it. It's made it so much easier in the last few months, it kind of rejuvenate me. The hockey team rejuvenate me."

"I think he'll be remembered for keeping hockey alive in Flint when times were tough," Duhart said.

The Generals played their last game in 2010. But Perani's legacy lives on. Once known as the IMA Sports Arena, Perani Arena and Event Center now bears his name. That's to go along with his stores, and his rare collection of memorabilia from around the world, that you can still find inside the Dort Mall. "Kris didn't want top much to have this stuff around the house, and so he brought it here," explained Duhart about why the collection is at the mall.

Bob Perani, gone, but certainly not forgotten.

"Not only was he, I think a great businessman, and a pillar of the community, I keep stressing on that, but I just think he was a great guy, and I think everybody's going to miss him," Knauft said.

Funeral arrangements for Perani have not been finalized.

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