Former Nashville Predators Associate Head Coach, Brent Peterson (right) will still have bench boss Barry Trotz’s (center) ear, however it will be in a diminished capacity as of this season. Peterson’s advancing symptoms from Parkinson’s Disease forced Trotz’s longtime right-hand man to step back into a consultant’s role after the conclusion of last season. Assistant Coach, Peter Horachek (left) will assume Peterson’s position as Associate. Nonetheless, the affable and still quotable-as-ever ‘Coach Pete’ made a guest appearance on 104.5 The Zone’s ‘Wakeup Zone’ radio program this morning, promoting his upcoming celebrity golf event and offering his take on the subject of the Predators’ Big 3. (Photo: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Coach Pete Zone
For those who missed it, the Nashville Predators longtime Associate Coach, Brent Peterson was a guest Wednesday on the early morning drive-time radio show, The Wake Up Zone on Nashville FM radio station, 104.5 The Zone. Always a great interview, he was on primarily to promote his September 9th charity golf tournament to benefit his Parkinson’s Disease awareness effort, Peterson Foundation For Parkinson’s.
‘Coach Pete’ as he has been affectionately nicknamed throughout his 13-plus year tenure with the team, is himself battling the progressively debilitating brain disorder, which attacks the central nervous system, robbing its victims’ muscles of their normal, coordinated function and movement.
This past April, Peterson decided he had finally reached the point of impairment that he could no longer perform his duties on the ice and informed the team of his decision to step down from his position as Associate Coach. However, he will stay on with the team in his new capacity of Hockey Operations Consultant for as long as he is physically able to do so.
Although his symptoms are still not to the point of being physically obvious in manner or speech, Peterson’s hand is being forced by the inevitable certainty that the disease is progressing, and with it, his changes in lifestyle necessary to deal with them. The Predators can only hope that Coach Pete can be around for many years to come, continuing to lend both his vast hockey knowledge to assist Head Coach Barry Trotz and remaining the tower of personal strength and inspiration he has always been for the organization.
While Peterson may not be his old self on the ice, one thing that hasn’t changed is his abundant wit and sense of humor. On the radio this morning, Peterson, in describing his new role with the team quipped, “I told Trotzy, hey, now with me bein’ a consultant, I’m never wrong.”
Not many folks connected with the team can remember a when he has been.
Peterson admitted that a defined role for his services has yet to be determined, saying that other than continuing to assist Trotz, he would be “all over the place” with the team, from working with General Manager David Poile to entertaining Preds corporate sponsors with a round of golf from time to time.
“They’re all kinda fighting over me right now,” he joked.
On Pekka, Ryan & Shea
Although the lion’s share of the interview surrounded the subject of his upcoming Brent Peterson Celebrity Golf Classic, the Wake Up Zone crew couldn’t allow the likable coach to get away without offering his take on the recent Shea Weber arbitration award and the impending contract extensions of Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne.
Having heard him speak often enough in between-period interviews with Preds TeeVee play-by-play men Pete Weber and Terry Crisp, I feel I can go out on a limb and say that the tone and timber of Peterson’s comments about Weber, Suter, and Rinne was one of perhaps more than a little frustration.
When asked to “give Predators fans something to feel good about” regarding the obvious controversy of the Weber $7.5 million, one-year signing, he responded, saying, “At some point, Weber, Suter, and Pekka are all going to have to decide whether they want to be Nashville Predators or not.”
However, remaining positive, Peterson reminded listeners that Weber still has ample time to make his decision; the Preds will have him beyond this season, as he’ll remain an RFA until July 1, 2013.
He indicated that the money offered to Weber for a long-term deal was indeed “fair market” and further indicated that fair market offers will also be extended to Suter and Rinne. However his tone was never pessimistic as to the probability of successfully signing the Big 3 to long term deals. Peterson said, hopefully, “If we are able to sign all three of them, you could put anyone around them and we’d always have a good team.”
But perhaps, ‘good’ might not be good enough.
In perhaps Peterson’s most revealing statement of the interview, he reinforced what many, including yours truly, have touted since the contentious arbitrator’s decision was announced on August 3rd. Peterson said that he had personally spoken to Shea after the arbitrator’s announcement to ask what was really going on. He quoted Weber’s response as, “I want to stay in Nashville, but I want to win; I want to win a Cup and I want the team to get better; I just need to see how things go.”
As hard as the unspoken message of that quote might be for PredsNation to hear, it is still a valid position, taken by a talented young hockey player who has earned the right to write his own ticket.
It’s All About the Kids
The next step is that of David Poile, to make Weber’s demand come to fruition. Poile must make the tricky decision of determining if the current crop of young talent due to be infused into the team this season will be ready for primetime soon enough to help the Preds turn the corner and emerge as legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, or take the chance of dealing some of that talent for more experienced — and expensive — proven scoring in order to complete the team’s transformation and keep the Captain in the fold for the long term.
For Pete’s sake —for all our sake — I hope he can.
* * * * *