The Grand Rapids Press’s Peter J. Wallner spoke with now-Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson regarding his decision to leave the Griffins:
“I felt that I’ve accomplished what I want to accomplish here. I came to Grand Rapids to win a Calder Cup, which we did, and I wanted to re-establish myself as a head coach – a good head coach – and I felt I did that over the past three years,” Nelson said in an interview Thursday with MLive.
The Stars on Thursday morning officially announced Nelson would become an assistant under first-year coach Jim Montgomery.
Nelson said the deal is for three seasons. He will handle the defense primarily and help on the power play.
Nelson led the Griffins to the playoffs all three seasons, going 22-11 and winning the Calder Cup Trophy last season. This year, they bowed out in the first round.
“It was disappointing a little bit this past season,” Nelson said. “But, yeah, short of winning another Calder Cup, what is there more than I can do here? Unless I wanted to stay here for, like, the rest of my life. I have to move on. There is a short window and right now I’m in it. I’m 49-years-old and I’m using this has a platform and hopefully I have success with Dallas.”
Todd Nelson, who was named the Stars’ newest assistant coach Thursday, will bring experience and a creative mind to Jim Montgomery’s coaching staff, according to Montgomery and general manager Jim Nill.
Montgomery played with Nelson on the 1995-96 Hershey Bears (AHL) and said he always liked Nelson’s aggressive approach to hockey.
“We were similar players in how we viewed the game, and I love the way he has brought that to his coaching career,” Montgomery told DallasStars.com of Nelson, who led the Grand Rapids Griffins to the Calder Cup in 2017.
“His teams are so well-prepared and so dynamic on the power play, and he brings everything that I want from our team in terms of identity.”
Nill was running the Grand Rapids Griffins when Nelson was an assistant coach there, and has maintained contact since moving on to become the GM in Dallas. He said Nelson’s resume (309-189-63 in the AHL with Grand Rapids and Oklahoma City) is impressive, and his experience will help Montgomery, who is starting his NHL career with the Stars.
“First of all, he’s a good person on and off the ice, but he’s also developed himself into a great coach,” Nill said. “I’ve worked with him in Grand Rapids and I’ve watched his career path as head coach in Oklahoma City playing against our guys in Texas and then in Edmonton and Grand Rapids again. He’s very innovative and he’s always had great success. I think he’s going to be a good fit for Jim.”