Nelson was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers Coaching Staff for the last two seasons before Team Ownership Group Atlanta Spirit, LLC cleaned house just after the regular season where the Thrashers once again missed the playoffs by just 5 points behind 8th Place Montreal and the Philadelphia Flyers who later made the Stanley Cup Finals.
Joining Nelson in Oklahoma City for the team's first season will be Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith.
As for Buchberger, he was the Head Coach of the old Edmonton Oilers Affiliate in Springfield, Mass. While Smith was a scout for the last two years for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Edmonton Oilers Ast. GM Ricky Olczyk officially introduced Nelson and Fleming at the Cox Center and will be overseeing operations while its unclear who will be the FM for the Oklahoma City Barons who will be the big man in OKC.
Quotes from Nelson in the Daily Oklahoman:
"Our Goal is to win the Calder Cup," Nelson Said. "And there's no better time then the first year."
"I knew that I'd have to come back to the American Hockey League to be a head coach and move back up," Nelson said. "It was a lot of pressure up there to win. If you don't win, you don't have a job for very long and I lived that. It was a great time in Atlanta. I enjoyed my time there but right now i'm looking for a fresh start somewhere else and looking forward to coaching in Oklahoma City."
"Our job as a staff is to develop players for Edmonton and help them win the Stanley Cup as well as develop a winning culture in Oklahoma City," Nelson said. "I think winning is a part of the development." You want both cities to prosper."
Other Notable Quotes
Edmonton Oilers Assistant GM Ricky Olczyk
"He's had success at entry level he's been at," Olczyk said. "He understands our two principles that we want to achieve our winning and development. The other thing is he's highly motivated. He gets the most out of every player."
"We think he'll compliment Todd really well and deliver on the plan that were expecting to implement moving forward.
Oklahoma City Barons Assistant Coach Gerry Fleming
"This organization, I feel, is moving in the right direction," Fleming said. "The Players, the free agent signings, it's just a great time to part of the Edmonton organization, so it was a no brainier for me."
From the Oklahoma City Barons Website: http://www.okcbarons.com/
GM Steve Tambellini announced today that the Edmonton Oilers have appointed Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith as assistant coaches to Tom Renney and named Todd Nelson Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Barons in the AHL.
Buchberger, 43, spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach to the Edmonton Oilers. Prior to that the former Oilers Captain was Head Coach of the Springfield Falcons, the Oilers former AHL Affiliate where he guided the team to a 35-35-10 record. Under Berchbergers guidance, the Falcons showed a 21 point improvement over their record of 28-49-3 in 2006-2007.
A veteran of 18 National Hockey League Seasons, including 13 with the Edmonton Oilers, Buchberger began his coaching career in 2004-2005, serving an assistant coach with the AHL's Edmonton Roadrunners. He held the position of the Oilers Development Coach in 2006-2007.
Smith, who spent the past two years as a scout of the Chicago Blackhawks, re-joins the team that drafted him back in 1981.
The 47 year old from Glasgow, Scotland native had a solid career in the NHL playing 804 games recording 375 points (72G, 303A) and 2,139 penalty minutes. He won three Stanley Cups while the Oilers and made it to the Finals twice more with the Blackhawks. In 134 post season games Smith had 52 points (11G 41A).
"Steve was an integral part of the Oilers on the blue line," said Tambellini. "He will be playing an important role in developing our young defense group."
Smith also served as an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames during the 1997-1998 season but elected to return to the ice playing three more seasons with the Flames before retiring.
Nelson, who spent the two previous seasons as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Thrashers, is the Barons first head coach since becoming Edmonton's AHL Affiliate this summer.
"Todd demonstrated a winning record and attitude throughout his professional career and we know that he will be a very valuable asset mentoring and developing our players in Oklahoma City." said Tambellini. "He has a wealth of experience both as a player and a coach in the NHL & AHL, which will be an added benefit to our organization. We are extremely excited to have him as our coach."
Prior to being with the Thrashers, Nelson was also an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL from 2006-2008. In the last season with the Wolves the team won the Calder Cup, had an impressive regular season record of 46-25-9 and broke or matched 30 franchise records.
Nelson, who hails from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, spent three seasons (2003-2006) as Head Coach of the Muskegon Fury in the UHL. In the first two seasons with the Fury the team was a Colonial Cup Champions. Nelson is the all time winningest coach in Fury Club History was 149-58-25 record.
Nelson was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 4th round, 79th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft following a solid Junior Career with the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL.
Gerry Fleming, who was an assistant coach with the Springfield Falcons the last two seasons, will continue the same role under Nelson's Leadership.