ODESSA, Tx -- The Odessa Jackalopes, proud members of the North American Hockey League, announced on Monday that they have hired Todd Watson to be the program’s sixth head coach in team history and fourth as a member of the NAHL.
“I am incredibly excited to come to Odessa and continue the proud tradition of Jackalopes hockey,” Watson said. “We are going to strive to put forward a product that the people of the Permian Basin can be proud of and position our players to succeed at the next level both on and off the ice.”
Watson, 52, brings a vast reservoir of junior hockey coaching experience and excellence to Odessa that spans over 11 years. He previously coached in the Ontario Hockey League with the Saginaw Spirit and the Plymouth Whalers as well as in the NAHL with the now defunct Detroit Compuware Ambassadors.
Serving as general manager and head coach of the Ambassadors from 2000-2003, he guided them to a NAHL league and Robertson Cup championship in 2002 as well as a USA Hockey Junior A Championship. That same year Watson was named NAHL Coach of the Year. Of the 25 players on the 2002 team, 22 of them received full-ride NCAA scholarships. In 2003, Watson finished his NAHL run by winning Executive of the Year honors.
Following his time in the NAHL, Watson served as an assistant general manager and assistant coach for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL. As an assistant, he helped guide the Whalers to a J. Ross Robertson Cup championship in 2007 and a spot in the Memorial Cup Tournament that same year. The Memorial Cup is the most coveted junior hockey championship in all of Canada.
Watson was named head coach of the Saginaw Spirit in 2007 and remains one of the longest tenured coaches in the Spirits’ history. He coached Saginaw for five seasons from 2007-2011. After one season, Watson was also named the team’s general manager. Whilst in Saginaw he accumulated a head coaching record of 154-115-20-13, and guided the Spirit to the team’s first OHL West Division title in 2011.
After his time in the OHL Watson served as a scout for the NHL’s Dallas Stars organization, focusing on the OHL, NCAA, and USHL, from 2012 to 2013.
Watson is a graduate of the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a Bachelor of Arts and Education. He is married to his wife of 25 years, Nicole, and has four children.
Watson’s hire signals the start of a new era for the Odessa Jackalopes, as they look to take the next step as an organization. A step that includes competing consistently for South Division and Robertson Cup Championships.
“Todd checks all the boxes of who we want as a head coach,” said Jackalopes owner Adam Doyle. “His experience and success in junior hockey speaks volumes and we are excited to move forward with him at the helm as we enter a new era for our organization.”