Peterson gets extension, will continue to work
The Devils' Pat Burns is not the only NHL coach facing health issues this offseason.
Brent Peterson, a well-respected associate coach with the Nashville Predators, revealed Monday that he has Parkinson's disease.
Peterson spoke about his health issues just days after the Predators were eliminated from their first-ever appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He said he has been living with the ailment that causes tremors and, in some cases, uncontrolled nervous spasms, for the better part of eight months. Peterson spoke to a handful of reporters Monday during Nashville's season-ending news conference, during which the contracts of head coach Barry Trotz and all of his assistants were extended.
He said he's been told he can continue to work while taking medication to control the disease, which is not life threatening.
Given the advances in treatment of the disease, Peterson said doctors have told him his condition will not progressively worsen for another five to 10 years. Team officials were aware of his condition long before his contract was extended.
Peterson said he has been in contact with long-time hockey fan Michael J. Fox, the actor who has become something of a spokesman for those afflicted with Parkinson's. Fox has been lobbying for money for medical research in the fight against Parkinson's, a progressive neurological disorder that results from the degeneration of neurons in a region of the brain that controls movement. The disease, which at least 500,000 in the United States suffer from, is most often characterized by a tremor or shaking of the body or a part of the body, especially when the body is at rest. Unlike Parkinson's Syndrome, the condition said to afflict boxing legend Muhammad Ali, the condition tends to worsen over time.
Peterson was hired by Nashville as an assistant coach in June 1998 after leading the Western Hockey League's Portland Winter Hawks to the Canadian Hockey League's Memorial Cup Championship. He was promoted to associate coach on June 19, 2003 after five seasons as an assistant. Like Trotz, Peterson has been behind the bench for every game in Nashville's NHL history. He also played in the NHL for Detroit, Buffalo, Vancouver and Hartford and coached for a time in Hartford.
Jim Kelley is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.
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