Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish announced today that he has relieved Dallas Eakins of his head coaching duties and would be taking over behind the bench on a short-term basis. Todd Nelson will be joining the staff and the team will eventually transition to him as he becomes the Oilers interim head coach.
“(Nelson) will join me as I transition the team and the responsibilities of the team over to Todd,” MacTavish said. “I know the personnel well, so I want to help Todd with that transition. I want to be clear in my messaging to the players. I want to get in and get into the trenches. I think I have a very good idea and understanding of what the dynamic is there, but I want to get my hands on it for a short period of time and then I will transition it back over to Todd. Todd will remain as interim coach for the remainder of the year.”
Nelson had three 40-win seasons to start his career in Oklahoma City. He’s made the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the Barons, heading into this year. In 2012 and 2013, he led the Barons to the Western Conference Final. Nelson has the Barons off to an impressive start this season, with a 15-6-2-2 record. They had won eight-straight games at one point and were unbeaten in regulation in 10 straight.
“He’s done a terrific job with our minor league team in the American Hockey League,” MacTavish said. “He’s deserving of this opportunity, I want to help him transition this group and… give myself a chance to get my hands on it.”
MacTavish did not give a timeline for the transition process.
“I will leave at a reasonable time, when I think Todd is completely familiar with the group and with the players,” he said.
Gerry Fleming will take over as head coach in Oklahoma City. There are no other changes to the staffs as of now. MacTavish said the team has made no decisions on coaching staff for next season, but Nelson will have the rest of this year to be evaluated.