(Photo Courtesy Steven Christy. All Rights Reserved.)
From the moment the Oklahoma City Barons arrived in town in the summer of 2010 we’ve been very lucky and had the same group of outstanding coaching staff to guide this team through four seasons of ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and on the edge of your seat excitement, not to mention four seasons of playoffs. In 2011-12 the Barons captured the West Division Championship and in back-to-back seasons 2011-12 and 2012-13 the team went all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Not bad for a new team! Head Coach Todd Nelson, along with his assistants Rocky Thompson and Gerry Fleming have done a phenomenal job with the development of this young team but there are changes coming to OKC.
An OKC Barons Assistant Coach position has appeared among the Edmonton Oilers job postings (see below) within the last few days and you ask “What does this mean?” and “Who?” It likely means that one of our current coaching staff is headed elsewhere next season, but the “Who” is much more difficult to ascertain. It could mean that Gerry Fleming or Rocky Thompson have found well-deserved promotions elsewhere, but it could also mean that Head Coach Todd Nelson has finally been recognized for his outstanding years of coaching and has been offered a promotion. (I used the term “likely” above since there is also the issue of Bill Scott’s vacant GM position with the team — if the Oilers keep the position, would one of this group be a possible candidate therefore opening up an assistant coach position?)
Would Fleming and Thompson be eligible candidates to fill Nelson’s position? Yes, Gerry Fleming has eight years of experience as an Assistant AHL coach and also eight years of experience as a Head Coach in the ECHL and he is AHL Head Coach material. Rocky Thompson has less experience, but it has been top notch with four years of Assistant AHL coach experience and also three years of experience as the Assistant Coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. They have both been groomed well under Nelson’s tutelage these four years in OKC.
As for Todd Nelson there have been many rumors surrounding his possible movement the past two years and justifiably so. Jonathan Willis wrote an excellent series on Nelson (linked below) that delves into his habits, techniques and rapport with his teams, as well as his past history with Barry Trotz. Don’t forget that Trotz was just hired as the new Head Coach of the Washington Capitals and Nelson also has past history with the Capitals organization. Personally, I’d love to see Nelson head back to the NHL and what better team than the Washington Capitals with Trotz. Yes, it would be difficult for Barons fans, but just like these young prospects that come through OKC, the coaches are also honing their skills and craft in the AHL waiting to be called up to the NHL.
Jonathan Willis’s Six Part series based on a long interview with Todd Nelson, the coach of the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate Oklahoma City Barons.
- Part 1: Communication is critical
- Part 2: First-year Europeans a unique challenge
- Part 3: Do Oilers and Barons play the same system?
- Part 4: Nelson on his coaching philosophy
- Part 5: On what Nelson learned from Barry Trotz
- Part 6: Edmonton Oilers Prospects Martin Gernat, David Musil could use more time in the AHL
The Edmonton Oilers Job Announcement:
“Assistant Coach – Oklahoma City Barons (Oklahoma City, OK)
The Oklahoma City Barons (West Division of the AHL) are a top affiliate team of the Edmonton Oilers (NHL) who play their home games in Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
• Reports directly to the Assistant GM, Edmonton Oilers
• The Assistant Coach is responsible for all practice sessions, motivating and instructing the athletes in game strategies and technique
Essential Duties and Responsibilities:
• Responsible for assisting the preparation and execution of all practices.
• Assist with pre-game preparations
• Assist with the operations of the team during the game
• Assist in the formation of the game plan (i.e. Offensive, Defensive, Power Play etc.)
• Video analysis and breakdown of opponent teams and systems
• Individual and player evaluations.
• Pre Scouts on opposing teams systems and player personal.
• Presentation of video analysis for daily team meetings
• Passionate about the sports and entertainment industry
• 8-10 years in hockey (playing, coaching, hockey schools and evaluating) with a minimum of 5 years in a professional coaching capacity
• Strong interest and commitments to athlete development
• Ability to communicate effectively on and off-ice with players and at times parents
Education and Experience:
• Preference to those who are NCCP Certified
Certificates, Licenses, Registrations:
• Valid Driver’s License
• This position requires access to a vehicle”