A week before it opens as a new team in a new league, PWHL Minnesota changed coaches Wednesday, replacing former Bethel coach Charlie Burggraf for former NHL defenseman and U.S. women's national team coach Ken Klee.

General Manager Natalie Darwitz said Burggraf informed her Tuesday after the holiday break that he was stepping away from the job because it was the right move for him and his family.

Within hours, Darwitz and the league had hired Klee, who has coached PWHL Minnesota players Kendall Coyne, Lee Stecklein, Nicole Hensley and Kelly Pannek before, when he coached the U.S. to consecutive IIHF women's world championships starting in 2015.

Players returned from Christmas for Wednesday's morning practice to discover they have a new coach with next Wednesday's opener at Boston fast approaching.

"It's professional sports, right?" Darwitz said. "In one day and the next, you have a new coach."

Darwitz hired her former Gophers assistant coach in August, convinced that Burggraf, with his leadership and experience, was the right person for the job. She credited him for helping her Gophers team win the 2005 NCAA championship with his wisdom and demeanor.

Klee was a finalist for the job and his familiarity with Darwitz and league officials through video conferences made Tuesday's job offer a logical connection, given the unusual circumstances.

"I went through the interview process, but at the time it wasn't meant to be," said Klee, who played 934 games for seven teams during his 14 NHL seasons and also coached in the American Hockey League. "Now it's a little later and the time is right. I'm excited. I think super highly of these players."

Klee packed his bags, loaded his truck and drove through the day and night Tuesday, arriving around midnight. He conducted his first practice Wednesday morning. He planned to watch video of his new team playing in a league exhibition games in Utica, N.Y., last month.

He already knows the players he coached for Team USA.

"There's a good familiarity there," Darwitz said. "He brings a wealth of knowledge and passion."