Dallas Eakins is the pretty girl at the dance this offseason; the minor league coach with great accomplishments and good potential that teams with vacancies covet.
That the Edmonton Oilers won his hand speaks either speaks to their willingness to give him what he’s asking for, or Eakins’ belief that a team with low expectations and high upside is a better fit for him than a current Stanley Cup contender in Vancouver or Madison Square Garden.
Darren Dreger of TSN reported on Sunday that Eakins will be named the new head coach of the Oilers on Monday, two days after GM Craig MacTavish’s surprise announcement that Ralph Krueger was out after just one 48-game season.
It was MacTavish’s philosophical differences with Krueger’s approach that led to his dismissal, with Eakins being more what the GM has in mind for the Oilers’ head coach. He’s expected to preach a more aggressive style than Krueger, and has an unimpeachable record of developing young players with the AHL Toronto Marlies.
Eakins, 46, could be the ideal fit for a young Oilers team that has been spinning its wheels, as he has a solid track record with the Marlies and graduated close to a dozen prospects to the parent Toronto Maple Leafs over his four years as an AHL head coach.
The Oilers job would be his first crack at an NHL head coaching role, but he spent two years as a Leafs assistant between 2006 and 2008 and a third as director of player development.
It’s an interesting move by MacTavish, who clearly sees this team as one that needs a bit more growing up before contending. Eakins can grow with the Oilers; an Alain Vigneault, for example, would have been more of a win-now move.
Which players will benefit most from Eakins arrival? I think the entire roster will benefit from having a coach who will do things like hard match, protect his lesser defensive players and shorten the bench, forecheck, breakouts, etc. I assume these are the things that concerned MacT (also the playing time for Hall through Yakupov) enough to make the move, and would also assume we’ll see someone with legit NHL experience behind a bench (Mark Lamb?) come in to help the process.
That’s why this choice may have been a no-brainer for Eakins. The Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers are both win-now moves; fall short, and Eakins ran the risk of seeing his first NHL head coaching job being a brief one. You know, like Ralph Krueger’s.
Dallas Eakins, Edmonton Oilers head coach; good more or bad decision by Oilers brass?
Put me down for “good move.” Although the personnel decisions MacTavish makes this summer may determine much more than his selection of head coach.