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

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open to Jan. 15

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Most Read