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Minnesota's PWHL team names former NHL defenseman Ken Klee head coach

Klee guided the USWNT to gold medals in 2015 and 2016.

Minnesota’s Professional Women’s Hockey League team hasn’t played a game yet, but it’s already on its second head coach.

Minnesota’s unnamed PWHL team named Ken Klee as its next head coach on Wednesday in place of Charlie Burggraf, who has decided to step away from the team.

“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 statement. “I wish both the PWHL, and especially Team Minnesota, great success.”

Klee was an NHL defenseman, playing in 934 games for the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche, Atlanta Thrashers, Anaheim Ducks and Phoenix Coyotes across his 14-year NHL career. Klee coached the U.S. Women’s National Team to gold medals during the 2015 and 2016 IIHF World Championships.

“We thank Charlie Burggraf for all he did for our franchise, and we wish him only the best in the future,” Minnesota general manager Natalie Darwitz said in a 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.”

Klee also guided Team USA to victories in the Four Nations Cup in 2015 and 2016, to first-place finishes at the U22 Select series in 2014 and 2015 and he also served as an assistant coach with the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch.

Klee will need to get the team ready and fast with their inaugural game taking place next Wednesday, Jan. 3, at Boston at 6 p.m. CST. Minnesota’s home opener against Montreal at Xcel Engery Center takes place three days later on Jan. 6 at 2:30 p.m.

“The hockey energy in Minnesota is just fantastic, and I’m delighted to be part of it,” Klee said in a statement. “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.”