He replaces John Anderson, who didn't return after two years with the Coyotes.
The 51-year-old Brown spent the past three seasons with Vancouver, working on a staff that helped lead the Canucks to the Presidents' Trophy in consecutive seasons and a trip to the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.
Brown also has served as an assistant coach for Anaheim, Columbus and Chicago in an NHL career that dates to the 1996-97 season. He also was the head coach for four seasons with Adirondack, the Detroit Red Wings' AHL affiliate.
He's, believe it or not, actually one of my favorite guys, and I've ended up trading him twice. I appreciate what he's done. He was one year away from being an unrestricted free agent, and I felt with this opportunity, that it was a chance that we were able to get somebody for him in Nick Bonino and Adam Clendening.
— Penguins GM Jim Rutherford on forward Brandon Sutter