There is no great plan to turn Brett Peterson into a hockey player.
In fact, the man who became the first black assistant general manager in NHL history actually appeared on skates through a twist of fate: as a child he coached his college jockey, some college hockey players at the Reneciler Polytechnic Institute, and the men’s coach Mike Adde with RPI.
“Helping the hockey team, coaching them, the hockey coach … traded me some free lessons to get on the ice,” Peterson said Tuesday after being hired by the Florida Panthers. “So before the hockey team came out I came on the ice and was pushing around a crate. I did not come from a hockey background. I fell in love with some kind of sport and took it from there. It was very coincidental.
“I had the energy I had when I was a kid and they’re looking to get some part of it, and we’re moving forward.”
The introduction of that opportunity created a mat in his career.
Peterson won the national championship with Boston College in 2001, and enjoyed a five – year pro career split between the ECHL and the American Hockey League. He then switched to the agent business with Acme World Sports in 2009 and remained there by merging with Wasserman Hockey earlier this year.
Then his old boss called.
Bill Zito, general manager of the Panthers, first hired Peterson at Acme. Now he is bringing him into a special NHL front office, which also includes AGM Paul Krepelka, another former player agent.
“We’ll go back,” Peterson said of Zito.
This is in many ways a simple story of how career progression in the world of hockey – except for the fact that Peterson is black. As a player, or as an agent, he doesn’t have many others, he has the jobs he ultimately wants.
That’s why Peterson asked O2K Worldwide Management Eustace King at its first NHLPA Annual Agent Meetings. At that time they were the only black player representatives.
However, at 39, he grew up in the hockey world because he was not overly discouraged about his long-term career prospects.
“Since I was a hockey player all my life – it didn’t make too many factors in my decision making – from the age of two – you kind of got used to not seeing people around, right? ”Said Peterson. “I cultivate good people, I think .It’s always been my goal and it’s still my goal.”
However, he did not deny the importance of his own appointment to the latter. Like Kim Ng, who became the GM of Miami Marlins last week, Peterson has reached this position entirely through his own hard work and prior work experience.
But he is breaking through a door on behalf of so many others at the same time.
“It’s really hard to put into words: it’s respect. I never thought it would be possible in my wildest dreams, ”Peterson said. “I’m happy to be in the second and third part now.”
Peterson’s precise duties in the Panthers’ hockey operations division are still in shape, but the team hopes he will play an active role in community – based activities that make the game more inclusive.
This is something he has previously been involved in as part of some Boston-Area charity efforts.
“The game was great for me,” Peterson said. “I want to help open the doors and hopefully help raise our footprint … I think not only about the Florida Panthers and our product, but also in terms of exciting people about the game of hockey in general, because there are vast opportunities that people don’t even know exist.”
Keep in mind that Peterson came from a family with no prior history or affiliation with the game. There were also times when his father, Daryl, wanted the young Brett not to fall in love with hockey.
“I think my dad will tell you he’s worried about how much the game will cost, but he’s happy now,” Peterson said.
He should be very proud too.