Minnesota’s PWHL team makes coaching change a week before opener

Minnesota’s PWHL team makes coaching change a week before opener

Minnesota’s PWHL team makes coaching change a week before opener

Just a week before its first-ever game, Minnesota’s newest hockey team has made a coaching change, per Twin Cities affiliate KSTP.

PWHL Minnesota announced Wednesday that Charlie Burggraf, the former Bethel University coach, “decided to step away from the team,” and quickly named his replacement.

“My family and I have decided that stepping away from the head coaching position at Team Minnesota is the right move for us at this time,” Burggraf said in a prepared statement. “I wish both the PWHL, and especially Team Minnesota, great success.”

It comes just three months after the newly created league tapped him as the first coach of Minnesota’s team, highlighting his time coaching PWHL Minnesota General Manager Natalie Darwitz at the University of Minnesota. From there, he went on to serve as a coach for both the men’s and women’s hockey teams at Bethel.

With his departure, Ken Klee will take over as head coach of the team.

Klee, 52, played 14 NHL seasons before moving into coaching, where he helped guide the U.S. Women’s National Team to gold medals in the 2015 and 2016 IIHF World Championships. He also coached the national team at the Four Nations Cup those years and the U-22 Selects series teams in 2014 and 2015. Most recently, he was an assistant coach for the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.

“We thank Charlie Burggraf for all he did for our franchise, and we wish him only the best in the future,” Darwitz said in a prepared statement. “Ken Klee brings a proven record of success to our coaching staff, and we are extremely pleased — for our players, our fans and our organization — that he has joined us.”

“The hockey energy in Minnesota is just fantastic, and I’m delighted to be part of it,” Klee said. “This position provides a terrific opportunity to coach outstanding players who represent the top level of professionalism, and to connect with a first-rate hockey community. I can’t wait to get started.”

Minnesota opens its inaugural season on Jan. 3 in Boston before its home opener on Jan. 6 at Xcel Energy Center.