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Watson named head coach for Grand Rapids

Wednesday, June 14th
Watson named head coach for Grand Rapids

The American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins named Dan Watson as the club's new head coach.

Watson had been with the Toledo Walleye since the team's first season in 2009-10, first as assistant coach and as head coach since the 2016-17 season. He has led Toledo to a 277-125-38 regular-season record and a 51-34 postseason mark. He ranks fifth in ECHL postseason history in wins and tied for sixth in games coached.

During his time with the Walleye, he led Toledo to the 2019 and 2022 Kelly Cup Finals and the Western Conference Fianls in 2017 and 2023. The Walleye captured the Brabham Cup as regular-season champions in 2016-17 and 2021-22.

Watson also was selected to coach in the ECHL All-Star Classic three times in his career. In his first season as Walleye head coach in 2017-18, he received the John Brophy Award for ECHL Coach of the Year.

Prior to taking over as head coach, Watson spent the previous seven seasons as assistant coach and associate head coach for Toledo. Over that time, Watson helped guide the Walleye to four playoff appearances (2010, 2013, 2015, 2016), a Brabham Cup championship (2014-15) and the best Eastern Conference regular season record in back-to-back seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16). He also served 21 games as interim head coach to close out the 2013-14 season, finishing with a 5-13-3 record.

Watson played three seasons with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League, being named the 1998-99 Scholastic Player of the Year at Sarnia and the 1999-00 Defensive Player of the Year, and playing in the 1998-99 OHL All-Star Game. Following his junior career, Watson played seven professional seasons in the AHL, UHL, and ECHL, with 447 games played, 89 points (23g-66a) and 394 penalty minutes. He was captain of Long Beach of the ECHL from 2004-06.

Watson becomes the eighth active AHL head coach who previously coached in the ECHL joining Colin Chaulk (Bakersfield), Brent Thompson (Bridgeport), J.F. Houle (Laval), Mark Morrison (Manitoba), Karl Taylor (Milwaukee), Ryan Mougenel (Providence) and Neil Graham (Texas).

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