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Former Oilers head coach gets another shot at the NHL

Good hiring? This guy never really got a fair shot with the Oilers…

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According to a report from The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro, the Dallas Stars are close to finalizing a deal with Grand Rapids Griffins head coach and former Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd Nelson to join the team as an assistant coach.

Not finalized yet, but Stars are close to a deal to bring in Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson as an assistant on Jim Montgomery’s staff.

Nelson has been with the Detroit Red Wings organization, as the Griffins’ head coach since 2015, leading the team to a Calder Cup championship last season. Prior to that Nelson was promoted to the Oilers head coaching job after the team parted ways with Dallas Eakins during the 2014-15 NHL season. Nelson had limited success with an underachieving Oilers squad that season, going 17-25-9 in 51 games, but his track record of success at the AHL level with the Griffins and the Oilers former affiliate Oklahoma City Barons, cannot be denied. In 460 minor league games as a head coach, Nelson has compiled an impressive 252 wins, 128 losses and 45 OT losses. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Ultimately the Oilers elected to not bring Nelson back as their head coach for the 2015-16 season, instead electing to hire former San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, the team's current head coach. The move was widely applauded at the time, even though a small contingent of Oilers fans and media members bemoaned the loss of the talented Nelson.

Nelson was seen as a frontrunner for the head coaching job with the Arizona Coyotes last offseason before the team ultimately elected to hire former Pittsburgh Penguins assistant Rick Tocchet. Nelson has also been an assistant coach in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers back in the mid 2000s, so this won’t be his first rodeo behind an NHL bench as an assistant.

Of course, the Stars hired former NCAA head coach Jim Montgomery to replace the departed Ken Hitchcock earlier this month. Hitchcock’s Dallas return lasted just a season… one miserable season in which the Stars went 42-34-8 and missed the playoffs for a second season. This offseason marks the team’s third coaching change in the past three seasons.