Detroit — Todd Nelson appears headed to the NHL.
The successful head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings’ minor league affiliate, will reportedly be named an assistant coach for the Dallas Stars.
Nelson didn’t respond to text messages Wednesday, but several reports out of Dallas indicated he will be named an assistant on new head coach Jim Montgomery’s staff.
Montgomery, who left the University of Denver, was named the Stars' coach in early May.
The Stars’ general manager is Jim Nill, the former assistant general manager of the Red Wings.
Nelson, 49, said after the Griffins were eliminated in this spring’s AHL playoffs he would be interested in pursuing an NHL coaching position (he was a finalist for the Arizona Coyotes’ head coach position last summer).
“Obviously that’s a goal of mine,” Nelson said after Grand Rapids was eliminated in the first round. “But if it doesn’t happen, this is a great place of work. The Grand Rapids organization is fantastic to work with, fantastic people. The Wings are fantastic to work with.”
Shortly after Wednesday’s reports surfaced about Nelson joining the Stars, the Griffins tweeted a quote from forward Ben Street, talking about Nelson’s relationship with players.
“Probably one of my favorite coaches in my life to play for, any sport, I love the guy,” Street said. “He deserves it. I hope he gets the chance because there’s not a whole lot left to prove at this level. The whole staff is excellent, they should all be offered a job somewhere in the NHL, I believe.
“I’m extremely proud to have played for him. I learned a lot playing for him; I had a blast playing for him and I hope he gets an opportunity.”
Nelson was an interim head coach with Edmonton in 2014-15 at the NHL level, going 17-22-7 in 46 games.
Nelson took the Griffins to the playoffs all three seasons he was there — with a 133-78-17 regular season record — and won the Calder Cup in 2017.
In eight years head coaching in the AHL, Nelson’s teams have made the playoffs every season (309-189-63).
Griffins players were extremely supportive of Nelson, and hopeful he’d get an NHL coaching opportunity.
“I came here originally to play for him again,” captain Matthew Ford said after the Griffins’ season ended. “He definitely deserves any attention he gets. He’s too good for this league. He gets the best out of every player.”
Along with, now, the head coaching vacancy in Grand Rapids, the Red Wings have an opening for an assistant on Jeff Blashill’s staff on the NHL level.
Blashill is considering prospective candidates currently, after returning a week ago from coaching Team USA to a bronze medal at the world championships.