Nelson joins Bears as new head coach

Photo: Mark Newman/AHL

The Hershey Bears have announced their coaching staff for the 2022-23 season, led by new head coach Todd Nelson.

Nelson comes to Hershey after four seasons as an assistant with the Dallas Stars, where he helped the club to three postseason trips and an appearance in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.

In eight AHL seasons as a head coach with Oklahoma City (2010-15) and Grand Rapids (2015-18), Nelson has guided his teams to a record of 309-189-16-47 (.607), including six 40-win seasons, three conference finals appearances and a Calder Cup championship with the Griffins in 2017.

Nelson ranks 19th all-time in victories by a head coach, and is also 42-31 in the Calder Cup Playoffs, tied for sixth all-time in postseason coaching wins.

Nelson spent part of the 2014-15 season as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. Previously, he served as an assistant coach in the AHL with Grand Rapids (2002-03) and Chicago (2006-08), winning a Calder Cup with the Wolves in 2008. He was also an assistant with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers from 2008-10.

A fourth-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1989, Nelson played 887 professional games ― including 70 with Hershey in 1995-96 ― and won a Calder Cup title with the Portland Pirates in 1994. He is one of three people (joining former Bears Mike Stothers and Bob Woods) ever to win Calder Cups as a player, assistant coach and head coach.

The Bears have also announced the hires of assistant coach Nick Bootland, associate goaltending coach Juha Lehtola, and video coach Adam Purner. Assistant coach Patrick Wellar and strength and conditioning coach Mike Wagner return from last year’s staff.