Brent Peterson continues to inspire in new role with Preds - WSMV Channel 4

Brent Peterson continues to inspire in new role with Preds

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Brent Peterson's title with the Nashville Predators is hockey operations adviser, but his mission in life is much bigger than that.

"Playing is the best thing by far, but being a coach is the next best thing," Peterson said. "You get to go through some challenges and some great times with those kids during their time on the ice as they get better and better."

Hockey has always been a passion for Peterson since he was a kid growing up in Alberta, Canada. He spent 11 years as a tough defensive forward in the NHL before beginning his coaching career.

Peterson served several years as an assistant coach for the Preds, and stayed in that position until two years ago.

He said he first began noticing changes with his body about 11 years ago, and he was eventually diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

"I just couldn't move my hand. It would lock up and wouldn't swing when I walked," he said.

The disease drained his spirit as well.

"We didn't tell anybody, because I was interviewing for head coaching jobs and wanted to be a head coach. It just got to be so time-consuming that I was trying to keep everybody in the dark," Peterson said.

In November 2011, Peterson underwent deep-brain stimulation surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center - a radical procedure in which thin wires were carefully guided into his brain all while he was awake.

"You have to be awake, so I was talking to them, telling them jokes, throwing a ball to them. It was pretty cool," Peterson said.

He said he feels blessed that the operation has improved his condition and quality of life.

"It's ended up great for me. It doesn't end up great for everybody, but I've been lucky," he said.

Peterson has written a book about his journey called My Toughest Faceoff.

He said he hopes the book helps inspire others to conquer their battle with Parkinson's, and he's donating proceeds from the book to charities, including at Vanderbilt.

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