Dallas Eakins has his roster, he has his challenge (the second season) and he’s edging closer to his first training camp as an NHL coach. Aside from being a fitness fanatic, what do we know about him? Dallas Eakins is a pretty interesting guy.
14 THINGS ABOUT DALLAS EAKINS
- Eakins had a long pro career and turned to coaching very shortly after playing his final pro games (he is now 46 years old and less than one decade removed from life as a player).
- He played 120 NHL, 273 IHL and 609 AHL games over his pro career, never playing more than 23 NHL games in a single season.
- The men who coached him were elite level: Peterborough (Dick Todd, Jacques Martin), AHL (Terry Murray, Ron Wilson), IHL (John Anderson) and NHL (notably Roger Neilson and Mike Keenan but also including Lindy Ruff, Perry Pearn, Randy Carlyle and Pat Quinn).
- James Mirtle: Eakins brings a decidedly “new school” approach behind the bench, and as a coach that players rally behind, is more in the mould of someone like Pittsburgh’s Dan Bylsma than the long list of veteran NHL coaches available right now.
- Eakins is very good at developing the department of youth. Beginning in 2009-10 Eakins coached and sent the following players to the NHL: Viktor Stalberg, Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak, Darryl Boyce, Jay Rosehill, Carl Gunnarsson, Keith Aulie, James Reimer, Nazem Kadri, Joey Crabb, Korbinian Holzer, Jake Gardiner, Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin, Mike Kostka, Leo Komarov.
- Eakins has been very clear with the Oilers players about expectations, even the new ones. Andrew Ference:“I think he’s going to be demanding, I think he’s going to hold guys accountable and expect professionalism, which creates success.As a player, you don’t want a guy who’s just going to be a nice guy and create an atmosphere where there’s no accountability, you want to win.You might have tough days here and there where you’re the one called out or being held accountable, but that’s the way it should be. We’re here to win and create a culture of success. One way to go about it is to be honest and demanding.”
- Eakins has an eye for talent, and is a fan of newly signed Ryan Hamilton. Eakins: "He’s a guy, I hope, will be in the mix when the conversations start as to who deserves a chance at the next level. He’s playing about as good a power-forward game as you can play at (the AHL) level.”
- Eakins is also very strong on new hire Will Acton. Eakins:“He’s like a bad smell that won’t go away. He’s never been the best player on any team he’s ever played for, but he scratches and claws and finds a way.”
- Dallas Eakins is to "unflappable" as Craig MacTavish is to "bold" in that they aren’t there yet, but there are great expectations.
- Eakins had terrific success in the AHL, taking the Marlies to the 2012 Calder Cup finals.
- He was interviewed for a head coaching job in Edmonton, Vancouver, New York, Dallas and Colorado. He was the "hot item" on the coaching menu this summer.
- Eakins is described as a "modern coach" by many. Example: “The way you coach players now is you get them one-on-one, you grab them for lunch, you hit them at the coffee machine. It’s small-group meetings, it’s one-on-one meetings and it’s constant, it’s every day.”
- We should see an exciting, fast team this season. Eakins: “You can’t just be a defensive team and you can’t just be an offensive team. In a perfect world, I want to be able to push the pace as high as we can, not only with our speed and our skill, but our fitness level so that when we have the puck we are going to challenge the other team with that kind of game.
- It’s difficult to draw many conclusions from summertime verbal, but it does sound like he’s going to ride his Jacks and Kings much more than previous Oiler coaching staffs. Eakins: "I am somebody that firmly believes that if you’re talented, just being talented is not enough. I want our players to be so fit, that a forward, if I ask him to play 26 minutes that night, he’s going to play 26 minutes at a high level."
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Life teaches us that even with good people and a plan things can go wrong. Still, the best way to build something worthwhile is making a plan and executing it with the best people available. Dallas Eakins appears to be just that–the best coach available to the Edmonton Oilers.
His name is pronounced Ach-ins. We wait.