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.


  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.”
  7. 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.”
  8. 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.”
  9. Dallas Eakins is to "unflappable" as Craig MacTavish is to "bold" in that they aren’t there yet, but there are great expectations.
  10. Eakins had terrific success in the AHL, taking the Marlies to the 2012 Calder Cup finals.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.
  14. 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."


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.

  • RexLibris

    Four straight articles here.

    I picture the other ON writers all locked up in the janitor’s closet while a crazy-eyed Lowetide laughs maniacally.

    Here’s hoping that the “push-the-pace” talk is more than just talk. I don’t want to see a coach roll out an aggressive game plan only to change it to defensive hockey when the Oilers struggle after six games due to lack of patience.

    The focus on quick-thinking defensemen who can transition the puck effectively and efficiently to the forwards makes that strategy all the more intriguing.

    I am simultaneously dreading the onset of winter and anxiously awaiting the arrival of pre-season. Oh, this conflicted nature…

    • yawto

      What is even more amazing is that on top of four straight here there another four that he has put up on his own site at the same time. Lowetide wastes more time studying and writing about hockey then I do reading about it an playing it combined. Love you work LT. THanks for keeping the dog days bearable.

  • RexLibris

    I think Eakins might have been the Oilers best pick up this off season. Any coach that values discipline will have a hard working team. That’s something this team has lacked. I still think we’ll be hardpressed to make the post season, but at least this team will be fun to watch on a consistent basis.

  • Czar

    As pointed out elsewhere, the Oil has 3 home games in the first 10, in all likelihood without RNH. All the centers move up a spot leaving a glacial Ryan Smyth at a Center position. Either that , or plug in some unproven, small replacement. And the marginally improved defence? Well, Aikens has some challenges ahead of him. Not feeling great.

  • book¡e

    I think its clear that the new coach is going to solve a lot of the teams problems and that this year is going to be awesome. I haven’t felt this good about a new coach since last year.

  • Locksmithluke

    Being that he was a hot commodity, coveted by a number of talented outfits, I think he was an excellent acquisition on his own. Like many other posters have pointed out, Eakins attention to peak fitness and sole accountability will harvest the absolute most out of each individual and hopefully eradicate the half arsed showings that have become commonplace with this club! Demanding a full sixty minutes of end to end hockey, focusing on each players ethic, as well as a whole will only spell success, how much is yet to be seen. I’m comfortable in predicting at the very least, even with all of the negativity being scrawled on these forums, that the Copper an’ Blue will be hosting its first playoff games in seven years come this season. I very well may be wrong, and eating crow come April next year, but my optimism is outweighing my pessimism , even only by a little, this season.

  • Czar

    I think you made a typo in the article, Lowetide.

    You said “he has his challenge (the second season)” when I think that you meant to say “He has his challenge (to get a second season as head coach, cuz that’s a rarity in this organization lately)”.

  • Spydyr

    Ralph was all that and a bag of chips last year at this time.

    Hope this coach works out better than the last four.

    Perhaps after this coach is fired Katz may look higher to where the real problem lies.

    How do you fire three coaches and keep the assistants?

    Oiler nepotism.

  • The Soup Fascist

    So with ahl experience in coaching/management he is the only one in the current oilers management chain who has that. And the first one since pat Quinn.

    Maybe just maybe Katz/Lowe have learned the value of a proper apprenticeship

    2. “Eye for talent”? Based on what? – what the hell does that even mean?

    3. He was not the star coaching option. There were other potential oilers coaching candidates with a far more established resume. Eakins was the brightest new-to-the-nhl coaching prospect – and it is open to debate whether any other NHL team was prepared to offer him a head coach job. Meanwhile the oil – MacT – were not even recruiting for a head coach when MacT changed course completely and hired Eakins / fired Krueger with no formal HEAD coach search. Thus we will never know if he was the best option available/willing to be HC of the oil. Statements like those in the blog above are revisionist history – nothing more.

    • Locksmithluke

      Serious Gord, please tell who all the shinning candidates you had in mind for the Oiler Job.?

      Eakins, is young, fit and energetic, just what this team needs. Too often last year under
      Sleep Hallow Kruger, the team did not show up for games, and often did not play a full 60 minutes.

      He also turned careers around for a bunch of rag tags guys in the Marlies Org., even no so rag tag Gardinair.

      He will do wonders for the youngsters her.

      • yawto

        Well for starters, all of those coaches who were let to from their NHL jobs in 2013.

        Let’s remember: Lowe hired MacT with no other interviews/formal hiring process. MacT the same with Eakins.

        Perhaps you’ve never operated or worked for a corporation of any size, but that is NOT how hiring should be done. It is a practice that is full of risk with a high chance of failure. Yet it is exactly how the oil has operated with the single exception of the process MacT was using to look for an ASSIStant coach. And then promptly abandoned that process and summarily fired Krueger and hired Eakins with Zero due diligence – ie interviewing a list of prospects.

        Perhaps Eakins will work out. I hope he does. But overhyping his credentials/status in the eyes of the league as Lowetide has done above does no one any favors.

  • What you didn’t mention is his philosophy on how to utilize his players . I read he likes player pairs as well as units of 5 . He will take chances on the PP in the last 10 minutes of a game if loosing .You mentioned players being able to play 26 minutes and that I think is forwards so I won’t be surprised to see any of that top 4 being pushed if there hot . Especially Hall & maybe Yak . It will be fun to watch.

    • Joy S. Lee

      I suspect the guys he’ll play extra will be because they are bringing it that night, whether that be Hall or Ryan Jones. Leaning on the hot guys is logical to getting the most from the team through a long 82-game season.

      Unlikely to be same guys every game. We don’t so much care who is getting it done as long as the team is winning. Chances are it’ll be guys like Hall, Eberle, etc., but there are as many as 21 guys to choose from on a given night.

  • Mumbai Max

    Some excellent tidbits here. Probably more useful than most of the management courses I’ve been on, so I’ll try it with some of my employees.

    See? Reading OilersNation is highly educational, and I should be able to justify reading it during work hours and marking it down as training time.

  • The Soup Fascist

    15. His actress wife is smoking hot and this fact alone will buy him some goodwill with many on this site including an unnamed blogger who typically finds a way to incorporate various hotties into his articles.

    BTW. Eakins CLEARLY has an eye for talent.

  • Klima's Mullet

    I think we’re still a year away from making the playoffs…and I think we’ll be picking up a decent center in the next draft with a top ten pick

  • The Soup Fascist

    Hey LT,
    I keep trying to post on your other blog but safari crashes every time.(I’m on my ipod). Just thought you should know. It’s probably for the best though because I had some choice words after the eberle RE. Why do you keep saying gagner is and the other kids are all improving while projecting ebs to flatline. I mean he had a couple slumps in a short season after outplaying everyone in okc,and burning the ahl to the ground. I also think we will see ebs stick to nuge like glue because of chemistry. I think we have two linesthat can split the toughs in
    Hall gagner yakupov and perron/Hemsky nuge ebs.

  • Spydyr

    Big thanks Lowetide for all your blogs. It’s been very enjoyable reading them both on ON and Lowetide.ca

    I’ve been in Calgary for the past two weeks and make it a point to catch the Low down with Lowetide show every day via Internet radio.

    Keep it up, only a few weeks left til TC and some NHL hockey!

  • magisterrex

    News flash for some of the posters here: corporate HR is not the same as being a GM in the NHL. Nobody is heading to the labour board when they’re fired, and nobody is checking references. Thinking that the two follow the same structure is ludicrous.

    • magisterrex

      Labour boards aren’t involved in senior management anywhere.

      Using good business practices of due diligence including taking to former employers and interviewing all eligible/qualified/interested candidates is relevant and common practice on many NHL teams and hundreds of other successful professional sports teams.

      Time for you to get out of the oiler fan isolation booth.

        • Locksmithluke

          Agreed magisterrex, Gord, with all due respect it would seem as though you were present and overseeing the whole operation regarding the Eakins hiring! Making unsubstantiated claims that the process was flawed, and he was simply awarded the job without any scrutiny whatsoever? Correct me if I’m wrong, but without being Oilers brass you have just about as much personal insight in the process as any other contributor on this site? No? I speak for myself (and possibly a few others by the looks of it) when I say it perturbs me when one makes boisterous claims such as yours, perhaps to just ruffle some feathers without any evidence to back said claims up. Mr. Serious, perhaps you should lighten up, kick back with an ON beverage and let the upcoming season play out?

          Sincerely; Locksmith Luke

        • OilLeak

          Not negative – realistic. Nowhere above am I being negative about Eakins. I’m trying to keep to the facts as we know them. That the oil and oil fans didn’t do that with Krueger contributed to his being hired and then failing IMO.

          • Actually Gord, the biggest issue I take with anything that you are saying is that things are “unsubstantiated” yet literally everything you say about their process is “unsubstantiated.” You have no idea how exactly they went about anything. None of us do. We get fed tidbits which may or may not be entirely accurate but none of us here know the entire process of what they did.

      • book¡e

        If you have ever worked in a privately owned firm, you would know it often does not work that way. In fact, much of the hiring is done via headhunting by key individuals in management (sometimes the owner themselves if they remain actively involved). Unlike publicly held companies where the board wants to insulate itself from any type of critique (and thus tends towards a structured hiring process), privately owned companies can take whatever approach they like towards hiring.

        • OilLeak

          I own a privately owned firm and have worked for an consulted for hundreds (maybe thousands) of them.

          Nepotism and favoritism plagues many of them and many of those suffer or even fail as a result. The better ones typically do engage in proper hiring practices. I sure as hell do.

  • yawto

    Ahhhh LT…nice to share more facts and info of this coach with the public…thanks.

    IMO, Eakins is an excellent acquisition by the Oilers as he is younger (among many of those in NHL coaching fraternity), he is a fitness fanatic (for himself and his players), determined, unflappable, and he has technical type systems for the team to play “FULL” 60 min games with…of which they will play or they can each sit/be banished. I like all of that a lot. I also value his track record thus far and the fact that he is always demanding but fair of each player…not just some or the one. it does not seem like favoritism is in his vocabulary….most excellent indeed!!!

    Quinn had his type guys (JF Jacques for example) and failed, Renney then had his guys too much over the kids (Khabby, Hemsky, Smyth, Whitney, Horcoff, Belanger, Barker, etc) and he absolutely failed…while Kruger did not use his guys or the team…well at all, IMO.

    I am also very pleased of seeing Keith Acton joining the Oilers too. He was an excellent player and since then…. his coaching record is listed as of being a very good calibre as well.

    I do however wish that a new updated type blog on both Bucky and Steve Smith should be published so as to finally publicly explain why they are still here and… for of exactly what they are supposed to be doing as assistant coaches. They were very good soldiers when playing but as for their records as coaches???? I think there has to be something said to justify them still being here…either both or each.

    • magisterrex

      Re: Smith and Bucky. I suggest it is more interference from high up. It is more than coincidental that BOTH of them outlast the head coaches. I bet Eakins definitely has guys he knows and is comfortable working with that he would hire in a second without edicts from above.

  • yawto

    @Serious Gord…

    Where do ya get that info that MacT did not properly interview Eakins before firing Kruger??? MacT did too use the process the right way, IMO, when meeting/dealing with Eakins.

    He first talked to Eakins while with Lowe in Toronto at the time of the Draft Combine, then after, he took two days shortly after to meet again with interviewing Eakins…being among with Lowe and Howson….and then before electing to fire Kruger a day after that.

    Eakins already has stated publicly that he saw MacT and the others for the longest interview and visit he ever had before…on the first day (which he told his wife too and that he absolutely enjoyed it). Then he still did not know where he stood with the Oilers until the second day of talks with MacT.

    Kruger was let go the next day after this dude…

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    MacT interviewed a bunch of people as well as Eakins.

    Eakins was highly sought. He was the “star” of the job market. That doesn’t mean he is/will be the best coach or that he isn’t/won’t be. It means that there was considerable buzz around him and many teams sought after him.

    “Eye for talent” means exactly what is described in the article: finding potential talent that is currently undervalued.

    • OilLeak

      As I said above, MacT interviewed people for the ASSISTANT coaching job. A few of those people had already been managers in the NHL. Had they been interviewed for the head coach their reaction could have been very different.

      And again, no proof offered regarding this eye for talent claim.

      • Romulus' Apotheosis

        There is a lot of speculation for you to make such claims. It’s true he didn’t interview for a head coaching job, but we don’t know how extensive the interview process was.

        Your rejection of this “eye for talent” thing just sounds petulant.

  • Locksmithluke

    I can’t deny I have positive feelings about Eakins, but the fact I also had positive feelings about Krueger is restraining my optimism. He certainly sounds like exactly what we need, but even if he is it will likely take some time for him to have a major impact.
    We need a cultural change as much as we need some lineup changes and that is always a process. Only time will tell but I believe the move of MacT to the GM position was a wise one. I am really looking forward to October, but having suffered so many disappointments over the past 20 years am keeping my expectations low.

  • book¡e

    In addition to qualifications, a HUGE component in hiring the right person is “fit” within the org. Risk missing out on the right person so you can conduct a search to find someone who is “better” when all your instincts tell you: this is the right guy – no thanks. Give me the GM with conviction in what he wants.

  • Concur

    The interesting item for me about the Eakins hiring was that he was interviewed as an Associate Coach for RK. But after he was hired as Head Coach it was his decision alone for his Associate Coach and Assistant Coaches as per MacT. Funny how RK didn’t have that…

  • Locksmithluke

    Funny how life works. Guys like Ference and Boyd PLUS deleting Horcoff amount to a strong character change in the room which will amount to on-ice success. “Eakins is a genius” will be echoed throughout town lol…coaches are important but overrated, at the end of the day you need the right players, who have heart, stones and skill to win, the results, good or bad, rub off on the coach

    • The Soup Fascist

      Not sure it is fair to say there were any character issues with Horcoff. Obviously, the guys in the dressing room are the only people whose opinion truly counts, but I never heard Horcoff was anything less than a hard working professional. He was a decent guy who signed a crazy contract that was put before him. Not sure that it is fair to infer that he was wholly responsible for a problem with character in the room.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    We shouldn’t be too hard on Ole Ralphy boy. It was after all Bum Stauffer who put his iron clad prediction he was going to be a future Jack Adams trophy winner before the ink was dry on his deal. Little did we know it was that Stauffer curse that sent Krueger to the bottom of the North Saskatchewan river before he even got comfortable.

    Last training camp started out at a brisk pace the first week as well. Only to peter out after a couple pre season games. With another condensed schedule ahead this yr, I don’t see the opportunity for the new coach to put his stamp on this club. This team is in desperate need of non game days/practice days to help reduce getting outworked on game nights. I hope Eakins does well, but from the looks of the lack of depth at that all important center ice position going into this season, things could get ugly sooner rather than later. With the apple dumpling gang still running things (Lowe, Bucky and MacT), i’m pretty sure this season will be very much like the last one.

  • No one has mentioned the simple fact that Krueger’s defensive system was the worst in the league, in that no team in the NHL has ever used it and teams were finding the open slot causing a shooting gallery on goal. All of our returning d-men were worse than the year before. The system put even more pressure on the centres where the wings had reduced duties.

    Eakins system with the Marlies proved wonders and was tops in the AHL.

    MacT also mentioned that he felt Ralph was a little too esoteric in his coaching approach, perhaps too much positivity and not enough hard accountability.

    Folks, overall, it was the defensive system, and my guess is it bothered MacT enough to fire Ralph.

  • LinkfromHyrule

    haha I think all these years of losing have started turning some fans into paranoid conspiracy theorists. Pretty soon the streets of Edmonton will be filled delusional oilers fans wearing tin foil on their heads screaming about 6 rings and hall being a reptilian

  • yawto

    I like what this new coach has to say however there has been a lot of coaches in Edmonton lately who can talk the talk, I’m hoping that Eakins can be the one who can walk the walk before I get to excited about him as head coach.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I wonder if Schultz Jr. is liking the coaching change considering that Kruegs was the final reason he came to Etown.

    Eakins talks a good game, we’ll see if he can put that into practice. I love the idea of a team that is brutally fit and works hard. It’s been a while since we’ve iced a team like that.

    By the way, by that standard, Hemmer has no place on this team. Dump that salary for a pick and grab Grabo!

    • Joy S. Lee

      Interesting comments, most of which I agree with. Still players’ coach, so Justin Schultz should be fine.

      I noticed team lagging last year at times, knew they were going to lose when the top talent started slowing down, couldn’t get more jump in their step to keep up with the pace. So, I believe this “brutally fit” mentality is critical to success in today’s game. And, I’ve noticed here for quite some time. This should be an edge that a young team has. Oilers are young, but not as fit as they could be. Talented, but not fit enough. Mix that youth with extreme fitness, and let the older teams try to keep up. It’s an advantage that absolutely MUST be utilized for a youth strategy to take root.

      Hemmer will be interesting. I’m eager to see what transpires with him. If he takes off like a house on fire, we have ourselves a good dilemma, but that would be the exact time to move him for our missing ingredient (size and grit with some skill, on the wing).