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

The Cowichan Tribes’ gymnasium at 5574 River Road is now operating as an extreme weather shelter. (Submitted photo)
New extreme weather shelter opens on River Road in Duncan

New facility should relieve some pressure on Warmland House

Dementia doesn’t just affect the person living with a diagnosis; it affects caregivers, family, friends and their community. (Submitted)
January is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

“Raise your voice: Dementia, long-term care and COVID-19” on Jan. 27

The firefighters at the Mesachie Lake fire hall could soon be working out of a new retrofitted building if the Cowichan V alley Regional District is successful with its application for a $350,000 federal grant to fund the project. (File photo)
Major retrofit planned for Mesachie Lake fire hall

CVRD applies for $350,000 federal grant

Dog owners, from left, Marlyn Briggs with Nayla, Marjory Sutherland with Effie and Mick, and Christina Godbolt with Conon walk their pets frequently at the Chemainus Ball Park but are growing increasingly concerned about drugs being found discarded in the area. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Puppy requires emergency treatment 3 times after ingesting drugs from Chemainus parks

Dog owners walking in Chemainus parks urged to take caution

The Cowichan Valley School District is holding an online session to discuss the future of Koksilah Elementary School, closed since 2013. (File photo)
What’s the future of the old Koksilah Elementary School?

The district is hoping to collect feedback on options for the future of the school.

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 is International Lego Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 24 to 30

Lego Day, Talk Like a Grizzled Prospector Day and Puzzle Day are all coming up this week

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Most Read