Much like the players on the ice have transformed and adapted to different roles as needed, the Preds coaching staff has undergone similar adaptations through the years. Coach Trotz has been the staple at the top with Associate Coach Brent Peterson and Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn on his staff since Year 1. Assistant Coach Peter Horachek joined the staff prior to the ’03-04 season and Strength and Conditioning Coach David Good came on board in the summer of ’04. In the last seven years, the only change to the staff was new Video Coordinator Lawrence Felony joining the staff prior to this season.
Mid-season, though, some of that dynamic started to shift when Peterson moved away from on-ice duties and focused more heavily on off-ice responsibilities --- film study, opponent prep work, team meetings, and the like. A former long-time NHLer, Peterson suffers from Parkinson’s Disease. For the past several years he’s hosted a charity golf outing to raise both awareness and money for Parkinson’s. This summer the golf outing will combine with the Nashville Predators Foundation’s outing – hosted September 9 at Vanderbilt Legends Golf Club.
The off-ice coaching work is more conducive to helping Peterson’s long-term ability to balance coaching with Parkinson’s; the on-ice responsibilities are getting more difficult as the disease progresses and this was likely the last season with on-ice duties. Still Parkinson’s does not affect any of his game night coaching responsibilities; he’s still as sharp and fiery as ever behind the bench.
“Brent has been invaluable to the organization from Day 1 with the development of our players and to my development as a coach,” Coach Trotz said. “He's a great coach, great person. He will be in the organization next season and will continue to help us on our staff."
The shift has occurred seamlessly as Trotz, Korn, and Horachek have taken more of a lead with on-ice drills. Peterson will often take notes from the stands, relaying issues down to ice level when needed --- much like the “eye in the sky” coach does during games, giving the staff an added perspective on how guys are responding to different drills.
Peterson and Trotz, along with Preds President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile have all said they will reconvene during the off-season to further detail Peterson’s role next season. Coach Trotz has stated several times during the playoffs that he feels Peterson has a Head Coach-caliber hockey mind; he’s talked about how valuable Peterson is to the staff. Poile echoed those sentiments, noting the success of the team under the current staff’s watch. While neither wanted to discuss anything beyond this year, clearly both indicated they would like Peterson on staff next season.
“Brent is so valuable to our organization, and we feel he can continue to help us not just in the locker room, but on the business side. Even though he’s stopped going on the ice, we want him to be with us for a long time to come,” Poile said. “We’re going to sit down and talk during the summer, see what Brent can do, see what he wants to do.”
Similarly, Coach Peterson is comfortable that things will work out. Both Poile and Trotz have histories of loyalty and have brought those philosophies with them to Nashville – it’s one of the prime tenets that have helped make the Preds one of the most respected hockey operations in the league.
Along with his off-ice coach duties, Peterson will also oversee the newly combined Nashville Predators / Brent Peterson Celebrity Golf Classic on September 8 and 9, 2011 at Vanderbilt Legends Club presented by First Tennessee, Franklin American Mortgage, and Peak Performance (click here to register