Todd Nelson explains his decision to leave the Griffins for Dallas

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.”

Wallner and Nelson continue, and Wallner posted a video of Nelson’s remarks:

The Griffins posted a video of Nelson’s remarks as well:

Update:’s Mike Heika spoke with Dallas personnel regarding Nelson’s hiring:

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 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.”

Heika continues

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

23 thoughts on “Todd Nelson explains his decision to leave the Griffins for Dallas”

  1. I sense some frustration in Todd’s comments. What more can I do (prove) here in the AHL? It’s a short window. Unless I decide to stay here for the rest of my life.

    It just comes across as someone that is frustrated that he hasn’t been given an NHL look. I mean last year it was pretty clear to many of us that Blashill was in over his head and not really showing improvement, whereas Nelson had just won the Calder Cup. I think most GMs would have fired Blashill and at least promoted Nelson on an interim basis.

  2. Mr. Nelsons personal and professional resume is long and amazing. Way more qualified than Coach Bluegill (sieve!).I cant find a reason the why our wings failed to work him in.

    Break a leg coach! Thanks for great run here. Cheering for you when you convince Mr. Nill you deserve the Stars bench.

  3. Nelson’s two quotes from the actual article about him,
    “Over the years, we have kept in contact and we’ve always had similar philosophies in how to play the game,” Nelson told reporters in Grand Rapids Thursday. “I think it’s going to be a great marriage, and hopefully we have a lot of success.”

    “I wasn’t just moving on to a team to be an assistant coach,” Nelson said. “I was moving on to a team to be an assistant coach that is going to win hockey games, and that’s what made Dallas so intriguing.”

    The former quote makes it sound as though he wants to play for his old boss. The latter makes it seem like he wants to coach someplace where he will “win hockey games”. It seems pretty hard to syphon off much other meaning from those two quotes.

    I certainly wouldn’t speculate anymore than that…..

  4. “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.”

    Definitely a bold quote.

    One can speculate all they want but you have to wonder why he chose Dallas over Detroit as far as an assistant job goes? You have Blashill on his last year on contract then you have Montgomery on his first year. Something clicked. Who knows for sure.

    Dallas will be interesting to watch this year.

    1. “One can speculate all they want but you have to wonder why he chose Dallas over Detroit as far as an assistant job goes?”

      From Nelson’s mouth,
      “Over the years, we (he and Jim Nill) have kept in contact and we’ve always had similar philosophies in how to play the game,” Nelson told reporters in Grand Rapids Thursday. “I think it’s going to be a great marriage, and hopefully we have a lot of success.”

      Watch, Cleary is next.

    2. Yes Trant. This is the most revealing quote for me. I sense frustration. Basically saying he’s at a dead end with our franchise so he needs to leave.

      The fact that he kept in touch with Nill isn’t that interesting to me. Hockey is a tight knit group. I’m sure Nelson has friends from his playing and coaching journey all over the hockey world. Turning down an assistant coaching job here and actively looking elsewhere speaks volumes…

      1. You keep saying this but fail to breakdown the language of what Nelson actually says to show there is something else he is saying.

        For me, all that can be gleaned from what Nelson has said is he and Nill have been close and kept their friendship going after Nill left Detroit. As you said, this is very normal because Hockey is a good old boys club.

        In his own words he wants to be someplace where the trajectory of the team is upward. Detroit’s is downward. We all know that, it’s obvious. Nelson’s statement aligns with that.

        The only thing you can pin on Detroit would only be what could be said about all the other clubs in the league too, not solely Detroit. Nelson could have waited to see what other teams had positions available later, but he didn’t. So, he only wants to go where his buddy is and he has a chance to work with a team that is improving now otherwise he would have waited for other positions on other teams to open. He didn’t so his words are honest and literal. He wants to work for his old boss. His old boss has a position and wants him. Not rocket science or Psych 412.

  5. Thanks GrrRahRah for the quote. You and FS are actually on the same page if you both read between the lines.

    Like I said, Dallas will be interesting this year.

    1. Dallas should be a better team then they are. Taking the equal position there is certainly a higher move up the career “ladder”.

  6. Don’t worry Trant. I follow what you are saying. An assistant for a lame duck head coach with 1 year left seems more likely to lead to a head job than joining a brand new coach on a 3-year deal. So he clearly wanted out. I get your point. Or maybe he just loves Jim Nill?

  7. fatsavage, I may have missed it but I don’t remember seeing where Nelson was actually offered the assistant coach position, only that he interviewed for it. If he was never offered it, it’s easy to see why he decided to move on.

    1. Hey Steve. You are right. I asked the same question…did Blashill choose NOT to add Nelson to his staff, perhaps viewing him as a threat.

      Many people quickly rebutted that with links about how Nelson “discussed” the assistant role with the Red Wings. But “discuss” is different from “offered” the job. Maybe Blashill said no and Nelson became even more frustrated?

    2. Steve, thank you for saying, IF Nelson was offered a position. We do not know. All we can conclude is is there was a conversation between Nelson and JB and Nelson decided to take another job that on paper seems to be a less favorable chance to becoming head coach. All conclusions beyond that are assumptions.

      Nelson’s own Words only show he decided on Dallas based on his friendship with Nill and a better chance to be part of a winning team now. If Nelson wanted money or even a head coaching position then waiting for the summer would have been a better option for him. Clearly by jumping on the job for Nill is based on his relationship with Nill. Nelson’s “discussions” with JB May only have been to let JB not to bother offering him a job.

      Another conclusion might have been that after a “discussion” both parties decided together that Nelson should not join the RW’s staff. That notion has not even been mentioned but is equally plausible. Sadly, it doesn’t result in the opportunity to make a fuss over.

      1. Exactly this, why does everything have to be P.C. around here? They reached out to him about an assistant job. Maybe they were talking and Nelson let them know he was planning on testing the market first? So they decided not to make an offer and that he deserved that respect? Maybe Nelson and Blash talked and Nelson didn’t want the position for reasons? Maybe he doesn’t like Blash? Maybe Blash doesn’t listen too assistants and only does things his way? It doesn’t really matter at this point and everything else is speculations. They talked and Nelson moved on.

        I don’t get why it matters if he was “offered” or not? To speculate this is all on Blash because he might be “threatened” is one sided. I love how it’s being attempted to be Blash’s or the org’s fault. We don’t know and every side should be given the benefit of the doubt. It’s called be open minded.

        1. Thank you. We have such little information on a a multitude of possibilities. So much is possible.

          BtW, sorry if I was too diplomatic in my last response. 😉

  8. At the end of the day, we continue to employ a coach, for the 4th season, who appears way in over his head. Few players have improved under him.

    During that time we had plenty of opportunities to upgrade. Like say when Gallant was available. We did nothing. Now we have a promising coach in Todd Nelson walk away. And apparently frustrated.

    This is discouraging as a fan.

    1. If the team gets worse and the young players produce the same is that really regression?

    2. The grass isn’t always greener. I remember 3 years ago when they had just hired a promising coach coming off a championship run and with a winning record. One that had won at every level he coached at. Look how that’s turned out.

      There’s no way to know if Gallant even accepts a coaching job from the Red Wings. Maybe he wanted to go a team with a future? Maybe he didn’t want to be a part of KH’s “country club” maybe he does take it and does just as bad as Blash has because the team lacks the proper tools to compete?

      1. Right. I understand the frustration and the want to mix things up. But to say with such certainty that this team would be better with Gallant or Nelson as the HC is a little ridiculous.

  9. The question remains; who is more to blame for this team’s poor performance?

    Blashill or Holland.

    (It’s Holland)

    But when you think every little thing is wrong with the organization, you run in circles and it leads to a small logical fallacy called confirmation bias.

    1. Maybe we should list all that is wrong with the organization and then place blame?

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