Photo courtesy of Steven Christy Photography. All rights reserved.
In what comes as no surprise to anyone, all three Oklahoma City Barons coaches will return for at least a few more seasons. In a press release that comes about two weeks late, the Oilers have locked in their trifecta of coaching in the minor leagues to hopefully continue bending the development curve in the proper direction.
General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have re-signed Oklahoma City Barons Head Coach Todd Nelson and Assistant Coaches Gerry Fleming and Rocky Thompson.
All three members of the AHL coaching staff are entering their third season with the Barons. In each of their first two campaigns, the staff produced 40-win seasons and a trip to the 2012 Calder Cup Western Conference Finals. In their first season together, the team posted a 40-29-2-9 mark and a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs for the first time in eight years for the Oilers organization.
Steve Tambellini says, “We are very excited to have Todd, Gerry and Rocky return to the Oklahoma City Barons. Under their leadership the Barons have excelled each season and they continue to play a critical role in developing our young talent.”
The coaching staff improved upon a strong 2010-11 season in 2011-12. Nelson and his staff guided the Barons to a 45-22-4-5 record, 99 points and the Western Conference regular season title. In the postseason, the Barons won their first two series before falling to the Toronto Marlies in the Western Conference Finals. Last season, the Barons were one of the top defensive clubs in the league, allowing just 176 goals over the 76-game schedule.
In a video posted around the time of the announcement, Coach Nelson confirms that he indeed “talked” to Tambellini about the head coaching position in Edmonton. The team decided to roll with Ralph Krueger, but the fact that Nelson was at least considered (albeit likely for due dilligence) is a huge step for Todd.
He again revisited that very topic via the Sports Animal this afternoon where he told Jim Traber, “I went through the interview process with the Oilers, but timing is everything. They informed me they were going to move forward with another candidate.” He continued, “OKC is stuck with me for a few more years, and the way things are going I have a bright future ahead.”
He also took a moment to discuss the recent signing of Yann Danis, “He explored many possibilities but ultimately decided there was some unfinished business in Oklahoma City. He also knows this gives him a chance to possibly help backup the Oilers goaltenders.”
I mentioned several weeks back that taking anything but a head coaching job at this point would be a step in the wrong direction for Coach Nelson. He apparently agreed.
And in what will likely go unnoticed to most, the fact that Fleming and Thompson have decided to hang around also points to the likelihood that they too believe in the system and culture that is developing in Oklahoma City.
There was no mention of the length of term for any of the returning coaches, but one would guess that it is two-year extension.