Todd Nelson carefully instructing and communicating clearly.
When your franchise is rebuilding, you need to have strong leadership. In order to rebuild, you need to be bad, but being bad with young talent in the lineup can be unhealthy for their mental makeup. This has been no more apparent than with the Edmonton Oilers, who have been in a perpetual rebuild since 2007.
The issue for the Oilers has quite obviously been Taylor Hall – that we all know. But the Oilers have issues beyond him. One of those has been coaching. Fortunately for them, that’s an issue they can put in the past now that they have Todd Nelson.
Right now, Todd Nelson only has the title of Interim Head Coach – the keyword being “interim”. Which means the Leafs could come in and sweep him from under Edmonton’s feet. This is something they should heavily consider.
Here’s why: Todd Nelson’s points percentage as head coach so far is .382%. Peter Horachek’s is .250%. I don’t like fancy stats, but if we pro-rate both of them over the course of a season, Todd Nelson would get you 63 points and Horachek would get you 41 points. Those 22 extra points are important for morale when you’re in the basement. There’s no way to chart how important a few extra wins are for the mentality of your young stars.
To get a real appreciation for Nelson, you have to put him against the previous coach of the Oilers – Dallas Eakins. Nelson has really improved the Oilers from the Dallas Eakins era, who was the Worst Coach Ever and only managed to lead them to 67 points last year. Pitiful.
Exhibit A: Dallas Eakins’s coaching.
And the difference is that he has his guys working hard and competing no matter what. It results in Nelson getting a lot out of his very highly paid players. He’s clearly reaching them. If he brings that ability to Toronto maybe he can get Bozak going again. Or help increase Phil’s trade value up from minus nothing.
The proof is in the pudding. The Oilers are finally transitioning from rebuild to powerhouse, and it’s because of Todd Nelson. Hopefully because the Leafs saw this firsthand last night, they’ll make it a priority to get Nelson behind their bench instead.
Sources say* Todd Nelson is going to have the interim tag removed sometime soon. Hopefully it’s with the Toronto Maple Leafs.