EAKINS: VOTE OF CONFIDENCE

Robin Brownlee
April 14 2014 05:16PM

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Like it or not, Dallas Eakins will be back for a second season as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers despite some well-documented bumps in the road during his rookie campaign as an NHL bench boss. That much we know.

Those wanting a continuation of a coaching carousel that's seen Craig MacTavish, Pat Quinn, Tom Renney and Ralph Krueger come and go after watching the Oilers go 29-44-9 for 67 points and a 28th-place finish won't be happy about that. Understandable on a lot of levels.

Those of us, and there are many, who believe sacking Eakins on the heels of running off MacTavish, Quinn, Renney and Krueger doesn't address the real problem with this team – that the player personnel isn't good enough and the mix of that personnel isn't right -- are happy the failures of another season aren't being heaped at the feet of yet another coach.

That's not to say Eakins was without fault in a season where he obviously needed time to adjust and made some mistakes, but I don't think it's difficult to argue, as many of us long have, the focus is slowly shifting, and should, to the players for a season that fell well short of expectations.

Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, who will have a significant say in the future fortunes of this franchise, weighed in on the question of continuity and the return of Eakins in 2014-15 before exit meetings, and both gave their coach a vote of confidence.

WHAT THEY SAID

4-Hall-15

"There's no doubt that coaches grow just as much as players do," Hall said. "When you have someone that has only coached in the AHL, you come in here and there's a lot of room for growing. I think you've seen that with Dallas.

"You guys aren't in the room like we are, but the way that he has grown over the course of the year is really something that we can look forward to. Our team, we're young, and we made some mistakes this year. We're going to make up for that, hopefully, over the course of the summer and we're going to learn and we're going to get better.

"I'm looking forward to having a coach coming back next year and really knowing what to expect. Hockey players, they like comfort and they like stability and having Dallas back next year, knowing what to expect, for me personally is something I'm looking forward to."

Jordan Eberle

"It's huge. It's nice to have that," Eberle said about starting a season without having to adjust to a new coach. "I've only had that once so far. We can kind of just pick up where we left off.

"Like I said, we were playing well at the end of the season and if we can just play that way there's no reason why we can't be there. I think starting the year like we were talking about before – we really struggled to find that defensive game that the new coach was bring and I think that's why we struggled early."

TALK IS CHEAP

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Whatever side of the "Eakins isn't going anywhere" debate you come down on, talk, as fans have come to know around here these past eight seasons, is cheap. With a season of adjustment behind him, Eakins will be, and should be, on a shorter leash in 2014-15.

Continuity won't matter a bit if the player personnel and the mix doesn't change. It falls to MacTavish and the rest of the front office to give Eakins and his coaching staff better pieces to work with. It then falls to Eakins and his staff to make better decisions with the pieces they have at their disposal.

I believe this is going to be an off-season of significant change in terms of player personnel – it has to be. Likewise in hockey-ops and behind the bench, where I think Eakins will get some help in the form of an experienced associate/assistant coach. I suspect some of the incumbents will be gone.

Stay tuned.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 Guy Lafleur
April 15 2014, 12:36PM
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Even Scotty Bowman went through tough times it wasnt all Stanley Cups ..well in Montreal it was of course :-)

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#102 Jay from YYC
April 15 2014, 12:37PM
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@blainer

Patrick Roy was one of the best goalies in all of hockey history, of course the goalie on his team would be great or at least drastically improve. You got the greatest goalie that played for the Avs giving you tips on how to be in net. Oddly, all our good net minders tend to flounder the longer they stay on the team...

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#103 ubermiguel
April 15 2014, 12:52PM
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Oiler63 wrote:

This team's problem goes much deeper than players. It's the losing culture that starts from above. But that's not what we are talking about here. We may have a sad line up especially on D. we do have holes to fill. Nobody is denying that. But we can for sure use a coach that gets the most of his players and get them overachieve and get them play respectable hockey. Trotz has a track record to get a medicore line up to compete and get results. Yes they have Webber and Suter for a while but the rest of their line up in Nashville is plain sad. But did anyone in the league ever take them as a laughing stock?

With Eakins there's no doubt this team under acheived. Is that not a good enough reason to let him go when there're much better options available? The only reason Eakins can keep his job is MacT's refusal to acknowledge he made a mistake.

MacT, I think you are a proud man. A proud man would be brave to acklowdge his mistake and fix it as soon as possible.

I agree with you, it is a losing culture, the stink of losing has to be washed off this team. Here's a list of people that better have a compelling reason to keep their job or I'd fire them if I was Katz: http://oilers.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=33068. I would add Laforge to that list for the terrible out-of-date in game experience.

However I stop at changing the GM and coach after one season because that would AGAIN give the players the message "it's not you, it was the coaching, keep doing what you're doing". One thing MacT has to do is coach Eakins on improving his skills (MacT was a pretty good coach) and let Eakins pick his own staff.

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Oiler63 wrote:

Give me ONE reason that I should be confident about Eakins' ability to turn this team around.

All right, I'll play. Just one? How about starting next season with two healthy centers and competent goaltending?

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#105 WONGER
April 15 2014, 01:20PM
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David S wrote:

This HAS to be another brilliant alter-ego of Wanye Gretz. Just has to be.

There is only one true WONGER- often imitated, never duplicated!!!!! If Ya SMELLLLLLLLLLLLLL......WHAT THE WONGER.... (raise eyebrow)..... is COOKIN!!!!!!!!

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#106 God
April 15 2014, 02:26PM
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I am one of the most pessimistic fans on these threads. I still found the press conference by MacT inspiring. He's extremely intelligent and is conveying his discontentment in a constructive way. Of course all he can do is vow to improve though he identified most of what we endlessly complain about here as well.

Fortunately there's really only one direction the team could go in. It couldn't possibly get any worse, could it?

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#107 AJ
April 15 2014, 03:06PM
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Lets look at the fact the team is worse this year compared to last. Mact is selling hope and change. Eventually reality catches up with the BS. Can't wait till next year when we are a lottery team again mage with luck we will get the #1 pick

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#108 Frank
April 15 2014, 03:09PM
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Eakins first mistake was not bringing in his own people, when he did not fire the assistant coaches that was my red flag that more of the same is coming and boy was I right.

Eakins is weak.

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#109 Pucker
April 15 2014, 03:20PM
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Evidently Eakins had growing pains. An AHL coach jumping to the NHL.

Evidently Krueger had growing pains. A first year, half season NHL coach who asked for an experienced Assistant or Associate coach for next. It's like he recognized his short comings and was looking for a solution.

Evidently it cost Krueger his job though. Regardlenss, it was a good idea and I applaud him for that line of thinking.

It's too bad we had these two rookie coaches learning on Oiler time.

I do hope McTavish/Eakins do bring in some experienced NHL coaching help for next season. I think this would be just a good business decision.

Maybe even someone that could step in should Eakins depart for some reason.

I do think that if Eakins requests and/or accepts this scenario, my expectations of him staying on as head coach would increase as would my respect for McTavish.

The other side of the coin is that there are huge ego's in pro sports and he may not be inclined to do the smart thing. After all, it might be construed as a sign of weakness.

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#110 AJ
April 15 2014, 03:51PM
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AJ wrote:

Lets look at the fact the team is worse this year compared to last. Mact is selling hope and change. Eventually reality catches up with the BS. Can't wait till next year when we are a lottery team again mage with luck we will get the #1 pick

I guess the person who trashed this comment believes MacT

“Our development process and development department in my mind is the best in the game”

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#111 jason
April 15 2014, 03:52PM
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Oh no, we are screwed.

Man I can't stand the guy.

A lost season now he got another year?

Look at the Avs, new coach, they won 50 plus games with same young team and no name Dmen.

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#112 AJ
April 15 2014, 03:57PM
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AJ wrote:

I guess the person who trashed this comment believes MacT

“Our development process and development department in my mind is the best in the game”

Want more MacT

“We’re building a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup”

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#113 RexHolez
April 15 2014, 04:17PM
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What I got out of the Mac presser is, the assistant coaches who've helped us reach the lowest point in oiler history are staying. We're not gonna get a major upgrade on d. He'll try sure, but he won't pay the price for one, so we'll be throwing the kids in the fire. And pretty much things are gonna stay the same. They'll draft who's available, make a couple tweaks in the bottom six again, and the boldest move will probably be whatever late round draft pick they can get for gags. What a great time to be an oiler fan!!

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#114 RexHolez
April 15 2014, 04:28PM
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Oh and let me add that I assume JSchultz will get a contract that will become an albatross in the Horc and Gagner mold

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#115 RexHolez
April 15 2014, 04:32PM
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AJ wrote:

Want more MacT

“We’re building a team capable of winning a Stanley Cup”

Want more MacT?? Regarding Buchberger

"gives us a little bit of a tie to a much more successful era"

Good old boys club

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#116 Saazman
April 15 2014, 04:50PM
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HockeyYoda wrote:

I couldn't agree more. They should have kept Krueger. The Oilers picked the wrong time to play the " we're not going to blame the coach anymore" card. I'm not an Albertan but became a fan of the Oilers about 4 years ago because even though they lost a lot, they always made you believe they could come back and win. Eakins has had more to work with than both Krueger and Renney.

I also agree 100%. As many fans have looked for the bold move i believe this was it. It was a roll of the dice and I think Mac T would do it differently if he could. I believe Ralph was shafted, and Craig made his move too soon. Not only was it the wrong time to change the head coach, it was the wrong time to bring in a rookie coach.

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#117 Oiler Al
April 15 2014, 05:52PM
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Watching MacT year end presser , loaded with more of the same "spinorama" we are used to hearing from the Oiler organization.

Just had the worst season, you are in 28 th place, bottom of the barrel yet again, and MacT is confident things are on the right track. Coaches are ok, including Smith and Bucky. What a load of huey this is.

Leaderships sucks big time , including MacT. He is part of problem with this organization. Just a mouth pc. for Lowe and Katz.

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#118 pelhem grenville
April 15 2014, 06:08PM
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If MacT wanted to be BOLD this summer!!!

could he make Eakins happy by

TRADING JORDAN EBERLE

to the Flyers for

right winger

Jakub Voracek 6 ft 2 215 lbs 4.5/yr

and centre

Sean Couturier 6 ft 3 200lbs 1.75/yr ?

...if not does that mean Eberle's overpaid?

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#119 seanjohn667
April 15 2014, 08:55PM
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this may be water under that bridge, but the 'continuity and stability' argument should have been applied one year earlier. Where would Kruger and the team be at this point? Now, Eakins gets all this rope, not on performance, but on the knee-jerk, scapegoating decisions made in the past. They wasted a season and a lot of die hard fans became casual fans. We will see if it was worth it.

I, for one, am permanently damages and may never see the team in the same light again. the respect and passion are gone. It will take a Colorado-rebound and deep playoff run to get me back.

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