Vancouver Islander making NHL assistant coaching debut

Brett McLean of the Comox Valley opens coming NHL season behind the bench of the Minnesota Wild

Brett McLean behind the bench.

After three seasons of coaching in a minor developmental league, Brett McLean is stepping up to the highest rung of professional hockey.

On Jan. 14, the 42-year-old Comox Valley native will be standing behind the bench of the Minnesota Wild.

The National Hockey League club, in August, named McLean an assistant coach. Along with former NHL player Darby Hendrickson, he has been tasked with coaching the forwards, and keeping an eye on neutral zone play.

“It’s been great, loving it,” McLean said Thursday from St. Paul, Minn. “We’re in day five of training camp. Lots to do in a short time, trying to get the team ready to play. It’s been a great camp so far.”

McLean will also be in charge of the power play, alongside head coach Dean Evason, who starred for the Hartford Whalers in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

“I’m very thankful to be on his staff,” McLean said. “It’s an exciting time to be a member of the Minnesota Wild organization.”

The departure of veteran centres Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu gives younger forwards such as Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway and Joel Eriksson Ek a chance to fill bigger roles.

The coaching staff is also excited about Russian winger Kirill Kaprizov joining the team.

“He looks outstanding,” McLean said. “He’s been considered one of the best players, if not the best player, outside the NHL the last few years.”

Defender Jered Spurgeon is the new team captain, and goalie Cam Talbot has been added to the lineup.

“So many games in such a short period of time. There’s going to be unexpected twists and turns throughout the season, so we have to be flexible and ready for any situation on a daily basis.”

McLean spent the last three seasons as an assistant with the Iowa Wild in the American Hockey League (AHL).

During a playing career that spanned nearly 20 years, the Comox-born centre skated with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers. He also played with professional club teams in Switzerland and Austria.

He has represented Canada on many occasions, including the 1998 World Junior Championships. He played with Team Canada in six Spengler Cups, winning the tournament on one occasion.

“I’m very, very lucky for a bunch of reasons, my family first and foremost,” McLean said. “I’m very proud of my career. I really had to earn it, every step along the way.”

As he translates to coaching, he finds it beneficial to have played in a variety of places, and to have experienced different cultures, coaching styles and playing styes.

“That versatility really helps me to relate to all different type of player from all different backgrounds…A coach’s job is pretty simple. You’re just trying to help and support these young men to live out their dreams.”

McLean’s wife Brenna, daughter Darian, 13, and sons Nixon, 9, and Nash, 5, still live in Iowa. They will move to St. Paul at the end of the school term in Iowa.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Brett McLean is pictured with teammates at a Spengler Cup tournament.

Brett McLean and family: his wife Brenna is holding five-year-old Nash. At left is Nixon, 9. At right is daughter Darian, 13.

Brett McLean is on the ice with his son Nixon before playing a game with the Linz Blackwings in Austria.

Just Posted

Oceanside RCMP Cpl. Jesse Foreman visits the PQB News/VI Free Daily studios. (Peter McCully photo)
PQBeat: Interview with Oceanside RCMP operational support NCO Cpl. Jesse Foreman

Podcast: Talk includes policing, commercial fishing, COVID-19, Tour de Rock and more

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

(File photo)
Case of COVID-19 confirmed in School District 69 (Qualicum)

Individual was at PASS/Woodwinds, with a last date of attendance of Jan. 22

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Five big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19:

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer’s uniform as she makes a phone call. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver man calls 911 to report his own stabbing, leading to arrest: police

Officers located the suspect a few blocks away. He was holding a bloody knife.

Christopher Anthony Craig Dick is wanted by the Port Alberni RCMP in connection to multiple investigations. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Vancouver Island RCMP seek man connected to assault investigations

Christopher Dick, 36, was recently in the North Cowichan and Duncan region

Vernon has agreed to a goose cull to control the over-populated invasive species making a muck of area parks and beaches. (Morning Star file photo)
Okanagan city pulls the trigger on goose cull

City asking neighbours to also help control over-population of geese

Members of the Saanich Fire Department can be seen working to put out a fire in the 4500-block of Chattertown Way on Jan. 26. (Saanich Fire/Twitter)
One cat killed, another resuscitated following blaze in Saanich townhouse

Neighbours evacuated following fire on Chatterton Way, third cat still missing

Tahsis mayor Martin Davis stands with an old-growth tree in McKelvie Creek Valley. The village of Tahsis signed a Letter of Understanding with forestry company Western Forest Products to establish McKelvie watershed as a protected area. Photo courtesy, TJ Watt.
Landmark deal expected to protect Tahsis watershed from logging

Tahsis and WFP agree on letter of understanding to preserve McKelvie Creek Valley within TFL 19

Most Read