June 08 2013 03:15PM
The Edmonton Oilers have scheduled a press conference for 4:00 PM today, and according to multiple reports the expectation is that head coach Ralph Krueger will be relieved of his duties.
Josh Rimer of Sportsnet was the first to say that Krueger was finished, and he has also been more definitive on that point than others:
At today's press conference in Edmonton it will be announced that Ralph Krueger is no longer the Head Coach of the Oilers.— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) June 8, 2013
Dreger, however, also reports additional news: while he says the Oilers may not announce the decision for a few days, his expectation is that Dallas Eakins will be taking over for Krueger.
Eakins is ready to be an NHL head coach. I'll be very surprised if he's not Edmonton's man.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 8, 2013
Dreger's TSN colleague Ryan Rishaug confirms that he too expects that Eakins will be named head coach:
My Sources strongly suggest Dallas Eakins will be Oilers new head coach, an announcement likely in the next few days. Krueger to be let go.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 8, 2013
Meanwhile, CBC's Elliotte Friedman tweets that while Krueger is out, Eakins is not yet in as his successor - while The Oilers like Eakins, they have yet to finalize a deal with him and there is interest from other teams.
And more news on the Eakins front:
Per NHL Source close to the situation, Dallas Eakins has signed a multi year contract with the Edmonton Oilers.— Josh Rimer (@JoshRimerHockey) June 8, 2013
On the day Craig MacTavish was hired, this is what he said:
I think it’s fair to say that there’s a very remote chance that where we are right now has anything to do with coaching... We’ve gone through four coaches in the last number of years, so for me to say it’s Ralph Krueger’s fault right now would be extremely shortsighted on my part. I give Ralph a lot of credit for the way he’s maintained a positive atmosphere.
Why the change? I'm going to quote Friedman again, because his thoughts echo my own on this:
To me, @jonathanwillis it's not about Krueger as much as it is about Eakins. People think very highly of him and my guess is the Oilers...— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 8, 2013
decided they wanted him. If they hire him as an associate, it's rough because it means he'll constantly be seen as a replacement.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 8, 2013
Which ties back to another thing Mactavish said the day he was hired:
There are an incredible amount of difficult things you have to do in this position. I believed it as a coach, I believe it as a manager: if you can’t do the difficult things that the job requires, how can you ask your players to do those things. I’m not going to shy away from doing difficult things.
The Oilers interviewed Dallas Eakins, and at the time the belief was that they were going to hire an associate coach. Craig MacTavish has had a few months to get comfortable with Krueger, to think about the team's coaching - and there were problems last year, as the team significantly regressed in areas they were strong in under Tom Renney but improved goaltending helped them tread water.
If Dallas Eakins is a better candidate for head coach today than Ralph Krueger, than that's all that matters; the team would be foolish not to make the switch. And if Eakins is a better candidate than Lindy Ruff and Alain Vigneualt, it's irrelevant that he's a rookie NHL head coach - he's done superb work in the AHL and there is no reason to believe that a man with his experience, credentials and personality won't get the respect he deserves from his players.
The bottom line is this: if the Oilers hired the best man available, it was the right call, no matter how it looks.