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Detroit — The Red Wings are expected to go with a familiar face to fill their opening in Grand Rapids.

Todd Nelson, who was the first player signed by the Red Wings minor league affiliate in 1996 and also coached the Griffins, is expected to be named the new head coach in Grand Rapids.

An official news conference in Grand Rapids is expected later this week.

Nelson, 46, was interim head coach of the Edmonton Oilers at the end of last season and led Edmonton to a 17-25-9 record, impressing many league analysts with the stability and discipline he provided.

Nelson was an assistant coach with the Griffins for the 2002-03 season under head coach Danton Cole. He was a defenseman on the team from 1996-2000, and for seven games during the 2001-02 season.

Nelson also played and coached for the United League's Muskegon Fury, coaching the team to league titles in 2004 and 2005.

Nelson succeeds Jeff Blashill, who was named head coach of the Red Wings after Mike Babcock departed for the head-coaching opening with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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