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Todd Nelson

Head Coach
Phone: (616) 774-4585
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 Todd Nelson, 48, became the 10th head coach in Griffins history on June 19, 2015, after splitting the 2014-15 season in head-coaching roles with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons and NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.

Nelson guided the Griffins to their second championship in 2016-17, joining Bob Woods and Mike Stothers as the only people to win the Calder Cup as a player (1994 Portland), assistant coach (2008 Chicago) and head coach. After posting a 100-point regular season (47-23-1-5), Grand Rapids roared through the playoffs with a 15-4 record, including a perfect 10-0 mark at Van Andel Arena that made the Griffins just the fourth team in league history to forge a 10-game home winning streak in a single postseason. They authored a three-game, first-round sweep of Milwaukee before subduing first-place powers Chicago (4-1), San Jose (4-1) and Syracuse (4-2), becoming the first team since Hershey in 2006 to defeat three division champions in the playoffs.

During Nelson’s first season as Grand Rapids’ bench boss in 2015-16, the Griffins posted a 44-30-1-1 mark and shattered team records with winning streaks of 15 and 13 games – becoming just the second AHL team in the last 25 years with two double-digit runs in a single season – while also claiming a record 14 straight victories on home ice. After upsetting Central Division champion Milwaukee in a three-game sweep during the first round of the playoffs, Grand Rapids fell to eventual Calder Cup champion Lake Erie 4-2 in the division finals, inflicting the only losses the Monsters would suffer during their 15-2 run to the title.

Nelson, a native of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, guided Oklahoma City to a 15-6-2-2 record and first place in the West Division in 2014-15, including a 10-game point streak from Nov. 15-Dec. 6, before taking over for Dallas Eakins as the interim head coach of the Oilers on Dec. 15. In his first stint as an NHL head coach, Nelson led Edmonton to a 17-22-7 record in 46 games.

One of the most accomplished defensemen in Grand Rapids history, Nelson was the first player ever signed to a Griffins contract on July 24, 1996, prior to the team’s inaugural season. Through parts of four seasons, Nelson amassed 67 points (11-56—67) and 123 penalty minutes in 236 career games with Grand Rapids. Most notably, Nelson was a member of the Griffins’ 1999-00 squad that reached the IHL Turner Cup Finals. He was an honorable mention IHL All-Star that season after leading the league with a plus-36 rating, and he ranks eighth overall in franchise history with a plus-53 rating.

Nelson’s 236 games played as a Griffin rank still eighth among defensemen. Following in the footsteps of Danton Cole (2002-05), whom he served under as an assistant coach, Nelson is the second former Griffins player to be employed as Grand Rapids’ head coach.

A fourth-round selection by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Nelson appeared in three regular season and four playoff games with the Penguins and Washington Capitals between 1991-94. In addition to his three Calder Cups, Nelson won a 2002 UHL Colonial Cup with the Muskegon Fury as a player/assistant coach to go with 2004 and 2005 titles as Muskegon’s head coach. He also made consecutive IHL All-Star Game appearances in 1992 (Muskegon Lumberjacks) and 1993 (Cleveland Lumberjacks).

Nelson began his full-time coaching career as an assistant with the Griffins in 2002-03, helping the team reach the Western Conference Finals after winning the Central Division and posting the best record in the conference during the regular season (48-22-8-2). Following his stint behind the Grand Rapids bench, Nelson served as the head coach of Muskegon, capturing cups in each of his first two seasons before advancing to the second round of the playoffs in his third.

Nelson returned to the AHL from 2006-08 as an assistant with the Chicago Wolves, capturing a Calder Cup in 2008, before departing for the NHL as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Thrashers for two seasons. From there, he served as the bench boss for Oklahoma City from 2010-15, leading his team to two Western Conference Finals appearances in just four full seasons. His most successful regular season was 2011-12, when Oklahoma City’s 45-22-4-5 mark was good for a West Division title and the best record in the Western Conference, and Nelson served as co-coach for the West at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic. He earned another opportunity to coach in the AHL’s midseason showcase in 2017, leading the Central Division All-Stars to the victory.

During the 2013 conference finals, Nelson’s Barons pushed the Griffins to Game 7 at Van Andel Arena, where Grand Rapids secured a 5-4 victory and advanced to the Calder Cup Finals. Overall, Nelson owns a 267-164-14-40 record as an AHL head coach.

He and his wife, Josette, have a son, Colton, and a daughter, Kyleigh.

 

      Regular Season Coaching Record
Playoffs
 Season Team League Position GP W L T OTL SOL PCT GP W L
PCT
2001-02 Muskegon UHL Player/Asst. Coach 74 48 22 4 -- -- 0.676 17 11 6 0.647
2002-03 Grand Rapids AHL Asst. Coach 80 48 22 8 2 -- 0.663 15 10 5 0.667
2003-04 Muskegon UHL Head Coach 76 47 20 -- 9 -- 0.678 11 11 0 1.000
2004-05 Muskegon UHL Head Coach 80 51 20 -- 9 -- 0.694 17 12 5 0.706
2005-06 Muskegon UHL Head Coach 76 51 18 -- 7 -- 0.717 12 6 6 0.500
2006-07 Chicago AHL Asst. Coach 80 46 25 -- 3 6 0.631 15 9 6 0.600
2007-08* Chicago AHL Asst. Coach 80 53 22 -- 2 3 0.694 24 16 8 0.667
2008-09 Atlanta NHL Asst. Coach 82 35 41 -- 5 1 0.463 -- -- -- --
2009-10 Atlanta NHL Asst. Coach 82 35 34 -- 7 6 0.506 -- -- -- --
2010-11 Oklahoma City AHL Head Coach 80 40 29 -- 2 9 0.569 6 2 4 0.333
2011-12 Oklahoma City AHL Head Coach 76 45 22 -- 4 5 0.651 14 8 6 0.571
2012-13 Oklahoma City AHL Head Coach 76

40

25 -- 2 9 0.599 17 10 7 0.588
2013-14 Oklahoma City AHL Head Coach 76 36 29 -- 2 9 0.546 3 0 3 0.000
2014-15 Oklahoma City AHL Head Coach 25 15 6 -- 2 2 0.680 -- -- -- --
  Edmonton NHL Head Coach 46 17 22 -- 7 0 0.446 -- -- -- --
2015-16 Grand Rapids AHL Head Coach 76 44 30 -- 1 1 0.592 9 5 4 0.556
2016-17* Grand Rapids AHL Head Coach 76 47 23 -- 1 5 0.658 19 15 4 0.789
      NHL HEAD COACHING TOTALS 46 17 22 -- 7
0 0.446 -- -- -- --
      GRIFFINS HEAD COACHING TOTALS 152 91 53
 -- 2
6 0.625 28 20 8 0.714
      AHL HEAD COACHING TOTALS 485 267 164 -- 14 40 0.606 68 40 28 0.588
      HEAD COACHING TOTALS 763 433 244 -- 46 40 0.624 108 69 39 0.639

 * Won Calder Cup