There is one thing above all else that Brent Peterson wants to do.
Absent that possibility, he is willing to do a little bit of everything.
The Predators announced last week that Peterson would assume the newly created role of hockey operations advisor after 12 seasons as an assistant on coach Barry Trotz’s staff. The change was necessitated by the advancement of Parkinson’s disease, which now makes it impossible for Peterson to work on the ice.
“If you want my true thoughts, I’d rather be totally healthy and behind the bench,” Peterson said. “That’s as close as you can get to playing — being behind the bench during the game. That’s the most fun.”
To hear him and others tell it, coaching from the bench is about the only think Peterson will not do in his new position.
“As I said to Brent, ‘You are going to be the hockey guy — you are going to be the hockey guy to me, to [Trotz]; you’re going to be the hockey guy on the business side; the hockey guy in the community when you go to speak or represent the community,’” General Manager David Poile said. “He’s going to do whatever anybody wants him to do.
“… He’ll have a role and Brent’s totally on board for whatever that might be.”
During games, Peterson expects to be on the pressbox level and communicating to the bench, specifically with Peter Horachek, who last week was promoted to Peterson’s former position, associate coach.
He will work directly with Poile and Trotz on all matters involving the team but he also will work with franchise officials on business and sponsorship matters as well.
Peterson said his travel might be limited because of the physical toll repeated plane trips demand, but his knowledge of the game is as extensive as ever.
“It’s sad from our standpoint because he’s a great coach and he loves to coach, but he can’t go down on the bench anymore,” Horachek said. “He’s still going to be around. He still has a great mind for the game and a great vision for the game. He’s going to be a huge asset for us.
“… Just knowing that he’s going to be here and be around. His voice, and knowing what he brings is going to be great for us.”
Followng an 11-year NHL career as a player, Peterson moved directly into coaching as an NHL assistant with Hartford for two seasons. Then he became a head coach in junior hockey and led the Portland Winter Hawks to the 1998 Memorial Cup.
He joined the Predators as a member of the original coaching staff months before the start of their inaugural season.
“I love being a coach and working with the guys on and off the ice,” Peterson said. “So it’s a little bittersweet, but I’m prepared for it. I’m trying to niche a new role for myself, but I wish I was back doing what I used to do.
“But I can’t. So I make the best of it.”