From Bruiser to Businessman: Pete Vandermeer’s Hockey Journey

Author: Kris Eberwein, for
Date: May 30, 2017

The following article was originally published by on October 31, 2012.  Vandermeer will serve as an Era Representative (2007 – 2017) during the PHPA 50th Annual Meeting Player Representatives this June 12 – 17 in Orlando, Florida.

After a 14 year career as one of professional hockey’s most feared enforcers, Peter Vandermeer is using his vast experience to give back to the game and mentor young players.

Vandermeer only skated in a handful of NHL games during his career but his long tenure as a professional hockey player gives him a unique insight to the game, which he uses to help promote young players in his native Alberta.

Vandermeer’s hockey journey took him through 17 different cities across North America. He was probably best known for his talent for acquiring penalty minutes but during his career he developed a keen understanding of the business of hockey.

Along with his reputation as a rough and ready player, Vandermeer was also known for his intelligence and his skill around the negotiating table. During his 14 year career, he was a Player Representative for the PHPA for 12 years and was a member of the Executive Committee for six years.

“I helped negotiate three collective bargaining agreements during my time with the PHPA. It was an awesome experience to be able to understand the business side of things,” said Vandermeer.

The NHL lockout is a subject that is on everyone’s mind lately. Vandermeer was involved in a similar labor dispute as a player representative in 2004 and can relate to the difficulty and gravity of the current CBA negotiations between the NHL and NHLPA.

“Things like that are just really difficult. You’ve got to deal with labour laws and unions and try to make everyone happy.”

Vandermeer has recently begun to use insight into the business side of hockey to help develop talented players. The young hockey players around Red Deer now benefit from Vandermeer’s experience.

“I took a long and winding road to the NHL. I like to use that experience to help some of the players who are coming up right now.”

After retiring at the end of the 2010-11 season Vandermeer decided to return to Alberta where his career began. He mentors young players around the Red Deer area and is currently working with a group of sports agents to help cultivate young talent.

“There’s a lot of great young talent in the Red Deer area. Not just the Rebels either, there’s tons of kids playing some great hockey around here right now.”

There’s no way of getting around it, hockey is big business. Like members of any large industry, players today must develop skill at the negotiating table as well as on the ice. This is a daunting task for any youngster. Fortunately, along with being a big business, hockey is also a love affair for many people like Vandermeer, whose passion for the game allows him to give back to the sport and the community.

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