Todd Nelson will have a new team to coach in 2014-15 and it could be at the Van Andel area in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Oklahoma City’s coach, who mentored so many young Oilers prospects over four plus seasons, may be doing good work for the Detroit Red Wings beginning this fall.
Peter Wallner of MLive has a story out today naming Nelson as a finalist for the AHL head job in Grand Rapids, which sounds like a similar situation to the Oilers job in Bakersfield on the face of it.
Wallner: Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde and former interim Edmonton Oilers
coach Todd Nelson are on a final list of candidates to take over as
coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins.Both are among “two or three” candidates that may be further
contacted this week, Ryan Martin, Detroit Red Wings assistant general
manager, said in a text Monday. Source
Why is this situation different? Why would Nelson prefer to move on? One suspects part of it is being passed over for Dallas Eakins—despite being as qualified or more qualified—and part of it may have to do with reputation. The Red Wings remain the gold standard for doing things right and if Nelson can have success in GR, chances are he’ll get noticed.
Either way, Nelson won’t return to the Oilers organization and that’s a damn shame. Bad timing, that’s all, he certainly showed some good things when he finally got an NHL chance. He came to the Oilers during a time when the organization was trying to establish an AHL presence and develop players who could help at the NHL level. Nelson, along with Steve Tambellini and others, re-established the brand for Edmonton in the AHL and in developing players like Jeff Petry, Anton Lander and Chris VandeVelde.
He’ll be missed but life goes on. Gerry Fleming is the odds-on favorite to be Bakersfield’s coach this fall and he’ll be charged with getting Laurent Brossoit, Bogdan Yakimov and Greg Chase to the NHL.