Dan Watson

Development Coach



The Detroit Red Wings named Dan Watson head coach of the Griffins on June 14, 2023. Watson became the 12th head coach in franchise history after serving six seasons as head coach of the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye.

The 44-year-old Watson guided Toledo to a 45-19-5-3 (0.681) record last season before going 9-4 in the Kelly Cup Playoffs to reach the Western Conference Finals. He has been with the Red Wings organization for the past 14 seasons, holding multiple roles with the Walleye since the team’s inception. An assistant coach from 2009-14, he then served two seasons (2014-16) as Toledo’s associate head coach alongside head coach Derek Lalonde, who just completed his first season behind the Red Wings’ bench. Watson was named head coach in July 2016 and also served as director of hockey operations during the 2020-21 ECHL campaign in which Toledo did not participate due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watson never missed the playoffs as head coach, reaching the Kelly Cup Finals twice (2019 and 2022) and leading Toledo to three division titles (2016-17, 2017-18 and 2021-22), three 100-point seasons (2016-17, 2017-18 and 2021-22), two regular season championships (2016-17 and 2021-22), and four Western Conference Finals berths (2017, 2019, 2022 and 2023). In 2016-17, he garnered the John Brophy Award as the ECHL’s Coach of the Year in his first year as head coach, when the Walleye won the Central Division behind a franchise-record 51 wins (51-17-2-2, 0.736) and reached the Western Conference Finals.

As a head coach, the Glencoe, Ontario, native possesses a 272-112-22-13 (0.691) ledger during the regular season and a 51-34 (0.600) mark over only five playoff campaigns (the 2020 postseason was canceled due to COVID-19). Watson coached 56 future or former Griffins and nine All-ECHL Team members since becoming Toledo’s head coach in 2016, including 2023 ECHL Goaltender of the Year John Lethemon. Over his 14-year tenure, Watson helped guide the Walleye to a 523-318-46-36 (0.611) regular season mark and Toledo reached five conference finals and two Kelly Cup Finals, all within the team’s last seven playoff runs.

The fastest coach in ECHL history to reach 100 wins and the winningest head coach in Walleye history, Watson was chosen to coach in the ECHL All-Star Game in both 2017 and 2022.

An undrafted defenseman out of the Ontario Hockey League, Watson signed as a free agent with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000 and began his pro career with the Syracuse Crunch in 2000-01, collecting seven points (3-4—7) in 59 games. Throughout four AHL seasons with Syracuse (2000-03), the Cleveland Barons (2002-04) and Providence Bruins (2003-04), he accumulated 27 points (8-19—27) in 193 appearances.

Watson and his wife, Kim, have two daughters, Kenzi and Eilee, and a son, Max.


Player Profile