Oklahoma City Blazers Hockey

Big League Experience

Nelson Coaches Blazers

NHL Bench Boss Guides OKC Blazers
The Oklahoma City Blazers made the 180 mile trip to Texas last weekend to take on the Dallas Snipers for a 3 games in 3 nights set. OKC would make the road trip without Head Coach and General Manager Tyler Fleck who was away on personal matters.
No coach. No Problem. Enter NHL head coach Todd Nelson.
The Blazers Fleck was more than confident in the individuals that would take the helm in his absence. Assistant Coaches Zac Desjardins and Marco Cefalo would assume the duties along with current Edmonton Oilers Head Coach Todd Nelson. Nelson, the newly named coach of the NHL’s Oilers after the firing of Dallas Eakins, had a rare weekend off to visit family during the annual NHL All-Star break. With the Oilers off and the vacancy behind the Blazers bench, it was only fitting the WSHL club reached out to father of Blazers winger Colton Nelson.
Over the years Todd Nelson has spent time as the assistant coach of the Atlanta Thrashers and most recently the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Oklahoma City Barons prior to his call back up to the NHL. With all the years spent working toward the ultimate goal of being an NHL head coach, Nelson’s time to coach his son was limited.
“It was great to have Todd come in and be on the bench, but more so, it was awesome for him to be able to be on the bench with his son,” explained head coach Tyler Fleck. “I’m not too sure exactly how many years Todd was able to coach Colton so it was really a very special opportunity for everyone involved.”
“It was awesome being on the bench with Dad for sure,” said a smiling Colton Nelson. “He has always been there to give me advice and kinda coach me on a personal level but not as much on a team level. So it was a pretty cool feeling to have him there coaching my team. It’s something I will always remember.”
Under the guidance of Nelson, Desjardins and Cefalo, the Blazers went 3 and 0 and swept the hometown Snipers by scores of 8-6, 5-2 and 5-1. Nelson’s arrival in Edmonton has also had an immediate impact there as well. He has a winning record since taking the reigns of the struggling Oilers whom at one point seemed destined for a last place finish among the 30 NHL teams. The Oilers are currently 6-5-4 since Nelson has had full control of the team.
“As a head coach in the NHL you aren’t just a really good hockey coach, you are regarded as one of best coaches in the world,” said Fleck.
The Blazers and their staff were fully aware of the anomaly that was taking place and were ready with open ears to take full advantage of Nelson’s wisdom.
“We were all kind of like a sponge trying to absorb and take in as much information as we could from him,” said Blazers assistant coach Zac Desjardins. “I think the guys had to do a double take on the bench every once in a while when Nelly was talking. It was surreal for many of them”
For some of the players it was a fantastic opportunity for them to learn from a guy who coaches hockey superstars on daily basis and, for the most part the message was to keep things simple.
“Todd came in between periods and reiterated on the bench to keep it simple and stay calm,” said Desjardins. “He didn’t overcomplicate things and made it easy for the guys to understand. I do know that the things he said however, will be things the team can use and build on for the rest of the season. It’s going to help us big time.”
While some took Nelson’s presence as a chance to learn, others took it as a chance to impress.
Seventeen year old Russian sensation Kirill Romanov had 10 points (7 goals and 3 assists) in the 3 game series vs the Snipers and made the most of his chance to impress the Oilers Head Coach. The skilled Romanov who stands at 6’3” and weighs 185 lbs has all the tools to someday compete for a job at the pro level in the very near future. During Saturday’s 5-2 win, Romanov single handedly dismantled Dallas with 4 of the teams 5 goals. The Western States Hockey League was also impressed by Romanov who was named the league’s Player of the Week.
“I want to thank Nelly for taking the time to help us out,” said Fleck. “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for everyone on our end and we are very grateful to him. We wish him and the Edmonton Oilers nothing but the best of luck for the rest of the season. Everyone here in the Blazers organization will be rooting for him and his Oilers.”