The Minnesota Wild have promoted former player Andrew Brunette to assistant coach with an eye on improving the team’s mediocre power play rank over the past couple seasons. The former Wild forward had served as a hockey operations adviser for the last two seasons before accepting his new role in the organization.
Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune writes that Rick Wilson, Darryl Sydor and Darby Hendrickson will join Brunette as assistant coaches behind head coach Mike Yeo this season. The move was the result of a gradual process in which Brunette was worked deeper and deeper into the game-day preparation for the team. Russo writes:
Last year, he predominately worked with the coaches, particularly on the power play. Next season, Brunette will work solely with the coaches. He’ll be in charge of the power play, and in fact, will likely join head coach Mike Yeo, Wilson and Sydor on the bench as a third assistant.
The Minnesota Wild ranked 16th in the league last year on the power play, which isn’t up to snuff for a team that’s looking to improve on its second-round playoff appearance last season. The power play is a lifeline for playoff teams when even-strength play can be one big quagmire at center ice. The team is hoping that the acquisition of winger Thomas Vanek, along with Brunette’s keen eye for offense, will propel the team to new heights in 2015.
Brunette has a long history with the Minnesota Wild. As Russo notes, “In Wild history, Brunette ranks third in goals (119), fourth in assists (202) and points (321) and second in power-plays goals (55).”