Panthers name Brett Peterson first Black assistant GM in NHL history

BB&T Center. (J. Pat Carter/AP)

The Florida Panthers have named Brett Peterson their new assistant general manager, making him what is believed to be the first Black assistant general manager in the NHL.

The team made the announcement in a press release on Tuesday.

"It's exciting whenever you get a chance to kind of reignite a boyhood dream of chasing the Stanley Cup, being in the National Hockey League," Peterson said in a statement provided to NHL.com. "Having the opportunity to be the first at something is even more exciting, something I never would have expected."

Prior to his new role with the Panthers, Peterson was a player agent and vice president of Wasserman Media Group's hockey division, where his former list of clients included elite NHL talent like Boston Bruins goaltender Tuuka Rask.

The 39-year-old has been a certified player agent since 2009 with Wasserman/Acme World Sports, making him one of two Black agents certified by the NHL Players' Association.

Peterson played four seasons as a defenceman at Boston College, where he helped the Eagles win the NCAA Frozen Four in 2001. He retired from minor hockey in 2009 after a career that saw him play 317 games for Atlantic City, Johnstown, Florida and Phoenix of the ECHL, as well as 21 games for Albany and Grand Rapids of the AHL and two games for Flint in the IHL.

"His substantive hockey experience as a player, significant developmental and evaluation skills, and business acumen as a negotiator combine to form an elite skill set that is very difficult to find in our sport," Bill Zito, the Panthers general manager, said in the team's release. "There are many who can excel in one of those disciplines, but few who excel in all three."

Having a hand in helping young players build their careers was part of being an agent Peterson particularly enjoyed, he told NHL.com, and was why he considered remaining an agent when Zito -- who is the co-founder of Acme World Sports -- offered him the job.

"There's something about taking a player on a journey," Peterson said. "That's what's exciting about this, you're taking a team on a journey now. Having a chance to help manage a team and chase a Stanley Cup is just a completely different extreme I can't wait to take part of."

Instead of doing so as a career-building agent, Peterson will now be a decision-maker for a young Panthers team that is led by 25-year-old star Aleksander Barkov.

"I think they've got some good young pieces; they've got a good core team in there," Peterson said. "It's our job, and everyone involved in the hockey ops job, to help it come together and make something pretty special. So that's what I'm looking forward to."

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