There was no mistaking Peters' job on the ice. Over six seasons he played in 200 games with the Buffalo Sabres and another 29 with the New Jersey Devils. In that time he scored just 4 goals and 3 assists.
"It’s sad when you can remember every single one of your goals and assists," he told The Sporting News. "But in the same sense not many people got to do what I did. That, in a sense, is an accomplishment."
Peters role was unmistakable. He was the resident tough guy. 650 penalty minutes in his NHL career. He earned his reputation in the minor leagues. In 2001-02 he led the AHL with 338 penalty minutes, and even fought his own brother, Geoff.
Getting punched in the head is not exactly the easiest job in hockey, but Peters embraced it.
“I loved every minute of it. It has to come to an end at some point. Hockey isn’t something that lasts forever, especially a guy with my role. You see less and less of it, which is a shame. It’s a pretty important part of the game."
In accepting the role, Peters was able to earn a over $2 million in NHL career salary.
Peters will probably be best remembered for his fight with Ottawa goaltender Ray Emery. Emery had just completed a fight with Buffalo goalie Martin Biron, only to find Peters coming his way. I thought that was crossing a line for Peters. For a NHL goon to attack a goalie at any time, let alone after he had already completed a fight, was against the NHL's much talked about fighting code. That incident told me all I needed to know about Peters, especially since the tired Emery held his own against the heavyweight.
Peters was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks in 2010-11. The Canucks were a very deep team and had no room for him at the NHL level, and demoted him back to the AHL. The Canucks were nice in that they arranged for Peters to return to Rochester, loaning him to the Amerks. But a missed curfew early in the season saw him exiled from Rochester by the parent Florida Panthers. Since the Canucks own farm team, the Manitoba Moose, did not want the tough guy either, Peters was a hockey player with no place to play.
By February the Canucks and Peters agreed to part ways, allowing for the contractual release of the player.
He and his wife Erin are returning to Buffalo and will operate a medical distribution business, or as he says, "using my brain for something other than a punching bag."
I tend to not pay a lot of attention to the one dimensional goons, or designated sitters as I like to call them. I had dismissed Peters as just that. But in reading about his career courtesy quotes of his former teammates, I quickly realize just how big of a role a player like Peters can play even from the bench, in the dressing room and on the team flights. Such contributions to team success are impossible to quantify.
Peters also was well liked in the community. While in Buffalo he was a regular contributor to a number of charity and hospital fundraiser events.