It was announced Tuesday afternoon that New Jersey Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette would be heading to the Nashville Predators to become their next head coach, replacing incumbent John Hynes. With Brunette originally expected to succeed Lindy Ruff in the future, the latest news has thrown a wrench in those plans.
A lot of praise and hype was heaped upon Andrew Brunette’s shoulders in 2022. He was a Jack Adam’s finalist and came off a President’s Trophy-winning season with the Florida Panthers. After he wasn’t given the Panthers’ top job, he joined the Devils staff.
Brunette’s hiring paid off, as the Devils, led by Lindy Ruff, won 52 games on their path back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2017-18 season. New Jersey also finished fourth in the league in goals and ninth in the league in goals against. Despite this, the team’s power-play unit finished ever-so-slightly above average, even with the plethora of talent available. Between that, the golf cart incident and Lindy Ruff returning as head coach, Brunette’s prospective long-term future with the team just felt off.
Also joining the New Jersey Devils as a coach for the first time, like Andrew Brunette, was long-time Devil Sergei Brylin. Brylin was brought aboard as an assistant coach and rounded out a staff of Brunette, Ruff, Ryan McGill, Chris Taylor, and Dave Rogalski. Over the last decade, ‘Sarge’ has been an assistant coach for the Devils’ minor league affiliates – the Binghamton Devils and Utica Comets.
During his time in Utica, Brylin helped run their power play and worked with Devils prospects like Alexander Holtz and Fabian Zetterlund. With Holtz expected to finally make a permanent jump to the NHL this year, having Brylin in his corner and experience in Brylin’s system would be extremely beneficial to him. Brylin also spent time on the penalty kill with the Devils this season, so having a coach who works with all of the special teams units is even better for this young Devils squad. For the sake of continuity, Brylin’s promotion is a slam dunk.