Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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New title for Wild's Andrew Brunette: Assistant coach

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild off-season news Updated: July 10, 2014 - 8:28 AM

I'm in the middle of writing a meaty Wild blog with a lot of info and updates, but I figured I would get this up now.

I tossed this briefly into Thursday’s newspaper, but former popular Wild forward Andrew Brunette has officially been named an assistant coach along with Rick Wilson, Darryl Sydor and Darby Hendrickson.

In the past two years, Brunette has held the role of hockey operations advisor, a role that saw him work with GM Chuck Fletcher, work with the coaches and even scout. 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.

Previously, Brunette was an eye in the sky with Hendrickson, but Yeo feels having Brunette on the bench during games will provide further value, particularly on the power play. The Wild’s power play ranked 16th in the NHL last season, converting 17.9 percent of the time. That’s exactly where the Wild finished in 2012-13 when Brunette wasn’t running the power play.

As we get closer to training camp or in camp, I’ll sit down with Yeo and Brunette to discuss the power play further, but Yeo said at the draft that the coaches are spending a portion of this offseason working on the power play and discussing everything from personnel to concepts to the way it’s run.

Obviously, the hope too is that Thomas Vanek’s addition will help. Vanek has scored the third-most power-play goals (113) in the NHL since the start of the 2005-06 season. Of course, ex-Wild/now-Duck Dany Heatley ranks fourth at 112. Ahead of Vanek in that time? Alex Ovechkin at 151 and Teemu Selanne at 115.

In Wild history, Brunette ranks third in goals (119), fourth in assists (202) and points (321) and second in power-plays goals (55).

I talked to Brunette a little about this at the draft, but I wasn't able to get him Wednesday. He, along with a number of Wild peeps, was heading to Finland to attend Wild captain Mikko Koivu's wedding. My invitation must have gotten lost in the mail!

As I mentioned, I'll post another blog soon with a little bit of this and a lot of that.

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