Brunette retires as player, takes post with Wild

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 13, 2013 - 10:55 PM

A fan favorite during two stints in St. Paul, the 39-year-old forward called it quits after more than 1,000 NHL games.

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Andrew Brunette.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher offered former Wild fan favorite Andrew Brunette the job of hockey ops adviser soon after the season began.

It took Brunette, never known for his speed on the ice, three weeks to make the decision to indeed retire from the NHL after 16 seasons on Wednesday and accept the position with the Wild.

"I guess you can say I skated to the decision not to play," Brunette, 39, said, laughing hard. "That's why it took me so long. It took a while to get there, just like everything else I did."

Brunette, who played for the Wild over two portions of his career, talked to a few teams about working for them, but in the end, "my heart was in Minnesota."

"Taking the step is a little bit scary and the finality of not playing all of sudden hits you, like, 'Woah, I can't believe I'm done, I don't know if I'm ready for this,'" Brunette said. "What will I miss? The true love for playing the game. I loved the competition. I loved the guys. To me, that's what hockey's all about."

Brunette scored 268 goals and 733 points in 1,110 games. He scored the most famous goal in Wild history -- the series-clinching overtime goal against Colorado in the 2003 playoff quarterfinals.

"That group, that time, the city, seeing what hockey meant in Minnesota, throw all that together and that was the most special time in my career," Brunette said.

Brunette said his new role with the Wild will be defined as it goes along, but he will assist Fletcher in all aspects of the team's hockey operations. Brunette is the fourth ex-Wild player hired during the Fletcher regime, joining Darby Hendrickson, Brad Bombardir and Wes Walz.

"It's a real classy thing that they're keeping some of the ex-players around that helped build this franchise because we all have [vested] interests and feel part of this thing and feel we had a hand in the success we've had over the years and want to help that continue," Brunette said.

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