Panthers Andrew Brunette to coach Atlantic Division squad at 2022 NHL All-Star Game

Florida Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, center, gives instructions during overtime of the team's NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. The Penguins won in a shootout, 3-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) (Gene J. Puskar, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SUNRISE, Fla., – Florida Panthers Interim Head Coach Andrew Brunette is going to have a bit more work to do during the NHL All-Star break than he planned.

On Tuesday the League announced Brunette would be behind the bench for the Atlantic Division squad during the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas.

The two-day event will take place on Friday Feb. 4 and Saturday Feb 5.

All-Star coaches are selected based on which teams lead each of the NHL’s four divisions by points percentage at the conclusion of games on Jan. 10.

Florida currently sits atop the Atlantic Division with a 23-7-5 record, good for a .729 points percentage.

The only team with a higher mark is the Carolina Hurricanes (.758 points percentage), meaning ‘Canes head coach Rod Brind’Amour will run the bench for the Metropolitan Division.

From the Western Conference, Jared Bednar of the Colorado Avalanche will coach the Central Division team and Peter DeBoer will get the home ice treatment as his Vegas Golden Knights lead the Pacific Division.

Colorado has a points percentage of .719 while Vegas holds a .618 mark, in case you were wondering.

Brunette took over as Florida’s Interim Head Coach on Oct. 29 following the resignation of Joel Quenneville.

Florida has skated to a 16-7-5 record under Brunette, and that comes while dealing with injuries to top players Sasha Barkov and Anthony Duclair, among others, as well as navigating the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which had led to over a dozen players missing time at different points of the season.

The Panthers have scored the second-most goals in the NHL so far this season, with their 137 trailing only Colorado’s 139.

Another impressive feat by Brunette’s club is that Florida has become the League’s best team on home ice. Through 21 home games, the Panthers are an amazing 18-3-0 at FLA Live Arena.

Brunette now becomes the third Panthers bench boss to be named an All-Star coach in the team’s 28-year history. Doug MacLean coached the Eastern Conference back in 1997 and Gerard Gallant was named head coach for the Atlantic Division in 2016.

The 2022 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 4 and the 2022 NHL All-Star Game will begin at 3 p.m. on Feb. 5.

Team captains and rosters will be announced on Thursday at 6 p.m.

About the Author:

David Dwork joined the WPLG Local 10 News team in August 2019. Born and raised in Miami-Dade County, David has covered South Florida sports since 2007.