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Trio takes to the bench

by Edmonton Oilers Press Release / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers assistant coaches Kelly Buchberger & Steve Smith were teammates through the late 1980's and early 1990's. (Photo by Getty Images)
General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have appointed Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith as Assistant Coaches to Tom Renney and named Todd Nelson Head Coach of the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.

Buchberger, 43, spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Oilers. Prior to that the former Oilers captain was Head Coach of the Springfield Falcons, the Oilers’ AHL affiliate where he guided the team to a 35-35-10 record. Under Buchberger’s guidance the Falcons showed a 21 point improvement over their record of 28-49-3 in 2006-07.

A veteran of 18 National Hockey League seasons, including 13 seasons with the Oilers, Buchberger began his coaching career in 2004-05, serving an Assistant Coach with the AHL’s Edmonton Road Runners. He held the position of Oilers’ Development Coach in 2006-07.

Smith, who spent the past two years as a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks, re-joins the team that drafted him back in 1981.

The 47-year-old Glasgow, Scotland native had a solid career in the NHL playing in 804 games recording 375 points (72G, 303A) and 2,139 penalty minutes. He won three Stanley Cups while with the Oilers and made it to the Finals twice more with the Blackhawks. In 134 post-season games Smith had 52 points (11G, 41A).

“Steve was an integral part of the Oilers on the blue line,” said Tambellini. “He will be playing an important role in developing our young defense group.”

Smith also served as an Assistant Coach with the Calgary Flames during the 1997-98 season but elected to return to the ice playing three more seasons with the Flames before retiring.

Todd Nelson addresses the media after being named Oklahoma City Barons head coach. (Photo by Rob Ferguson, OKC Barons)
Nelson, who spent the previous two seasons as an Assistant Coach with the Atlanta Thrashers, is the Barons’ first Head Coach since becoming Edmonton’s AHL affiliate this summer.

“Todd has demonstrated a winning record and attitude throughout his professional career and we know that he will be a very valuable asset mentoring and developing our players in Oklahoma City,” said Tambellini. “He has a wealth of experience both as a player and a coach in the NHL and AHL, which will be an added benefit to our organization. We are extremely excited to have him as our coach.”

Prior to being with the Thrashers, Nelson was also an Assistant Coach with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL from 2006-2008. In his last season with the Wolves the team won the Calder Cup, had an impressive regular season record of 46-25-3-6 and broke or matched 30 franchise records.

Nelson, who hails from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, spent three seasons (2003-2006) as Head Coach of the Muskegon Fury of the UHL. In his first two seasons with the Fury the team was Colonial Cup Champions. Nelson is the all-time winningest coach in Fury club history with a 149-58-25 record.

Nelson was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 4th round, 79th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft following a solid junior career with the Prince Albert Raiders in the WHL.

Gerry Fleming, who was an Assistant Coach with the Springfield Falcons the last two seasons, will continue the same role under Nelson’s leadership.

Edmonton Oilers hockey is presented in part by the Rexall Family of Pharmacies, Molson Canadian, ATB Financial, TELUS, Cenovus Energy and Ford.
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