ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Former National Hockey League forward Andrew Brunette officially retired as a player Thursday, but he won't be out of the game for long.
Brunette was named Hockey Operations Advisor for the Minnesota Wild, an all-encompassing role that will allow Brunette to work directly with Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher, assistant GM Brent Flahr, Houston Aeros GM Jim Mill as well as the coaching staffs in Minnesota and Houston.
"It may be a bittersweet day for Andrew Brunette, but it's a great day for our franchise," Fletcher said. "To add someone with his experience and his intelligence to our hockey operations department … who knows where this takes him? I think he has unlimited potential to do what he wants to do in this game."
Brunette said he was thankful for the patience displayed by the franchise over the course of the first couple of weeks of the season. But after finishing his one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks last season, no one called following the lockout. After it became clear playing no longer was an option, Brunette said he was eager to get going with the next phase of his career.
"Retiring was a lot harder than I thought," Brunette said. "It was tough to get over that little hump, especially the first few games. Being in a city that had so much hype coming in, it was hard to watch. But as it went on further, I felt a little more comfortable and figured it was time to get out of my basement and do something I love to do and that's be around the game of hockey."
Brunette's announcement comes on the same day the Wild host the Colorado Avalanche, a team for which Brunette played but also the team he scored perhaps the most iconic goal in the Wild franchise history -- a Game 7 overtime winner in Denver in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinals. The No. 7-seeded Wild were an upstart franchise in its third season of existence and were heavy underdogs against an Avalanche team featuring Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Patrick Roy. Colorado took a 3-1 series lead before Minnesota rallied for three straight wins to take the series.
Minnesota also rallied from a 3-1 series deficit the next round to defeat the Vancouver Canucks, but lost to the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Finals, but its Brunette's goal against the Avs that remains etched in the hearts and minds of many in Minnesota.
"The Minnesota Wild is very special to my heart," Brunette said. "We have a lot of pride in what we accomplished here and we want to keep it going. I see a bright future and I'm very excited for this opportunity."