eakins common33

After a long, disastrous season it’s understandable to feel a need to lash out and point fingers. The problem? There are always some fingers pointing back at you.

In his famous Sunday article Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun tells us the prevailing wisdom in regard to Eakins future.

  • Garrioch: The belief is the Oilers will stick with coach Dallas Eakins as he heads
    into the second year of his contract despite a disastrous rookie

I believe it’s the right call. Why? First, Craig MacTavish hired Eakins to bring a culture change to the organization, and it appears (from what we know) this was a turbulent year for all concerned. I have no doubt learning occurred for both players and coach (witness Hall’s improvement in shot differential of late, likely a result of relaxing the ‘shoot and chase’ approach to offense) during this year. Next season should be stronger because of the foundation built in 2013-14.

There has to be structure, and Eakins has struggled at times to institute the plan. That’s on him, but there’s also a lot of truth in the idea that you can’t win the race with a plough horse. Edmonton’s defense isn’t good enough to turn north and I don’t think Scotty Bowman could get this defensive group into the playoffs.

Progress was made, and the blueline seems to be coming into view.

Garrioch article is here, he also mentions Messier as a future coaching option. 



Lots of chatter about improving the staff by hiring and firing assistants. I don’t know much about that area of the game, but do know that the defense hummed when Charlie Huddy was an assistant coach here. If he comes available, I’d like to see him back in our town.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    MacT should take advantage of opportunity. If a great coach comes available (Trotz)… You try to hire him and if successful let go of Eakins. If not, you hang on to Eakins until the right coach is available. Do I think this will happen? No, I ‘m sue we’re stuck with Eakins for awhile longer.

  • Serious Gord

    Got to love the line” can’t fire Eakins, need to have continuity”

    What, continue to be in 29th place again, is that what you mean by continuity.

  • Serious Gord

    I think it’s probably the right move “for now”. I think that the problem I see that could be long term is Eakins stubbornness and lack of either flexibility or adaptability I guess is more appropriate? I mean if it’s true and the latest surge by Hall and others is that Eakins changed there approach on zone entries? Well that was 65-70 games into a season?! And the PP … we collectively have been screaming to change it for months.

    In his pre season interviews he stated that he would prefer to install 2-3 different systems of play so that he could adjust mid game if necessary. Right now its sounding like a lot of hot air. How could any coach let alone an NHL level coach not think the PP needed to be totally adjusted? And while on the subject which of Buckberger and Smith are involved in designing this PP… They should be fired without question.

    Bottom line is it at this point appears he does not have the ability to adapt quick enough for this league. But I guess you give him to xmas to see what he can do?

  • Serious Gord

    I think they’ll keep Eakins, as well, mostly because of the foolish pride on the ‘braintrust’. I understand the need for continuity but that should have been done with a more experienced NHL level hire last year. Either that, or keep Renney or Krueger. Eakins should have been brought up as an assistant because he’s in over his head right now. I hope he comes back a completely different coach next year and proves us all wrong but I have my doubts. The best we can hope for is some quality assistants. I like some of the ideas on this board, like Oates and especially Huddy.

  • CMG30

    I dont get it. Why dosent MacT get input on Dallas (or on any coach they have)from the players? Sitting in the press box dosent really give a good view of what goes in the dressing room

  • Spydyr

    Not an Eakins guy but I don’t think he should be fired either. Players (especially young ones) need continuity at this level to have success with systems play. My theory for the current coaching staff is if Taylor Hall respects him (doesn’t have to like him), buys into the system and performs then keep the man for
    More then a year, the other players should follow suit. I love yak and wish he had a better year but see what happens with him next year.

    • Serious Gord

      That is flawed logic.

      If you have a teacher who is incompetent at teaching you will improve your learning by switching teachers far more quickly and easily than adapting to the current teachers flawed methods.

      Anyone who made it through secondary school can attest to that.

      • Serious Gord

        I get what your saying but what I saying is I don’t think any coach makes this team a playoff team this year. So if Eakins and Hall are a match and Hall has become a better player this year (you could make the argument that hall would I too be this year regardless of the coach) then wait and see what Eakins can do in his second year if things remain the same then I agree 100% in getting rid of him.

        If a top pick came into the league as an 18 year old and had a tough season we wouldn’t want the oilers to buy their contact out but after the 2nd or 3rd year we would probably be ok with trading them away. So why is Eakins as a rookie coach not able to get a shot next year? Coaches improve too and I am sure this year had alot of lessons.

        • Spydyr

          How long are you prepared to wait until Eakins gets it? How much collateral damage are you prepared to live with until he does if he ever does? and if he doesn’t get it, then what will we have left? just saying. I am betting that more than more managers than Larianov have or will contact the GM by next year to find out what the plan is.

        • Serious Gord

          It’s very simple really:

          Did Eakins make this team play above or below its capabilities? Were/are there other options who could have done a better job?

          If the answers are “below” and “yes” respectively, then he should be replaced forthwith.

          • Lowetide

            You don’t know the answer to either that is the problem, if you can name a coach out there that is available that makes the team a playoff team then for sure hire him, there are no guarantees though so why risk it?

            Again I don’t think Eakins is the best coach in the world but he isn’t the worst either, next year will be a better tell of what kind of coach he is, a good coach adapts and seeks ways to improve his team and himself…I am just curious how he will do next year.

            I know you want him fired so who do the oilers hire next year? Or who would have hired this year (or kept Ralph)?

          • Serious Gord

            I think the team’a record speaks for itself and there is plenty of analysis of Eakins to go along with it (have you read ANY analysis that shows Eakins to be a good coach?) – Eakins has not helped this team improve. So I think the answer to question number one is pretty clear.

            As for the second; from my position I cannot say with any preciseness who – specifically would be the best choice.

            But unless you are saying that Eakins was the very best option that was available to MacT when he was hired or that no better option will be available between now and September, (and MacT certainly can’t as he never engaged in a true search for a HC) there absolutely are options – better ones – than Eakins.

          • JSR

            Fair argument, I’m just of the mindset that even the best coach doesn’t win enough to make playoffs this year with this team.

            I am more concerned about adding players that will make this team more competitive then hoping another coach can. I don’t know anything about what goes on in practice and 1 on 1 with players to say anything. But I do know the players that make up the team aren’t good enough. Improve the D first and then worry about the coach.

  • Serious Gord

    Eakins is still our best choice for a chance at Connor McDavid. What ever happened this year will repeat itself for next year ……….past performance is a good indicator for future performance.

    Unless there is a wholesale change in upper management for symbolic reasons, the rest of the team will not improve.

    Mac T will need to walk on water for a while.

  • Czar

    When everything you have done in the past has led to bad results, maybe you should try the opposite.

    The opposite here would be to keep a coach past one season. This is a huge summer, not just in terms of off-season acquisitions, but also for the returning players. A structured off-season of training that is consistent with what the organization and the coach would like to see come training camp in the fall. This would be the first time in years that we could expect this.

    • Serious Gord

      Wrong. The opposite would be to get some non-old boy to head the organization. And the opposite would be to engage in a proper search for a new Head Coach. Circling the wagons and defending the old boys is just more of the same approach.

  • Czar

    Hiring a rookie head coach for this inexperienced squad was a mistake. Hiring a rookie head coach with inexperienced assistants was even worse. Say what you want about Eakins, and there is certainly cause for criticism, but this mess precedes his arrival. I would keep him and fire Bucky and Smith. I totally agree with Huddy returning if he becomes available, I always liked him when he was coaching in Edmonton.

    Bottom line, without improvements to this roster, we will be in this same place a year from now wondering what went wrong regardless of who is coaching us.

  • Spydyr

    The you have to keep Eakins because you don’t want to bring in a new coach again argument is rubbish.

    On the way up most of these players switched coaches and systems every couple years.It is part of advancing through hockey.

    The only criteria Eakins should be judged on is did the team move forward or did the team regress under his time here.

    The answer is obvious and so is what should happen to Eakins.

    Now the issue is Lowe will not allow a coach that is a threat to his position to be hired.Nor will a seasoned NHL coach with options want to work under Lowe.

    That is all on Katz.

    • OldSchool

      Agree about not sticking with Eakins. That’s like saying, I’m tired of changing girlfriends every year so I’m going to marry the one I happen to be with today.

      Poor reasoning behind a major decision.

  • Lordy.

    Eakins is only one of the many issues involving this team, you have to remember back, MacTavish ( paraphrasing) ” this guy thinks like me, I liked the way he coached against my team in the AHL”

    Like LT said, you could put Bowman in as coach and as long as the team in front of him consists of AHL players, defected Or defective KHLers and a bunch of kids as your starting roster, then have ALL the MSM kiss your ass because you made decisions that last GM was too inept to make or consider doesn’t make you a rock star!

    It just means your a step up from the last fool who thought he was a genius.

    If you need any third and forth liners call MacTavish he has a two teams full of them.

    What can you expect this summer?

    He’s already thrown it out there that what the Oilers need is a strong 3rd pairing D-Man……see Greene, Matt for more information.

    You like Gagner? Good, trust me when I say MacTavish will move him to RW way before he trades him!!

    Thus, expect a kid to be moved, Yakupov? Possible, but it makes little sense to get pennies on the dollar, think Eberle but don’t be surprised if both go.

    Eakins & MacTavish are a pair, they think the same & value the same kinds of players,(Fraser) that’s what scary part of this whole Eakins debate, wait until this team is void of skill and dump, chase, bang, rinse and repeat become this teams standard.

    Think Maple Leaf’s & Marlies hockey.

  • Slapshot

    I heard Universal studios is coming out with a new Three Stooges movie and Katz,Lowe and Eakins were offered the staring roles.Can anyone confirm the rumor?

  • Slapshot

    Giving the coach a pass because of the quality of the defence is by implication an indictment of the GM who assembled it. MacT’s “let’s throw lots of spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks” approach to procuring defenders had been a dismal failure.

    Fire them all to be safe…

  • beloch

    “Next season should be stronger because of the foundation built in 2013-14. “

    We can all agree that the first part of building a foundation is to dig a big freakin’ pit in the ground. Unfortunately, the next step typically is not to have everyone line up on the edge of the pit, pee into the pit, and then congratulate each other on the distances achieved.

  • Slapshot

    This organization is a pile of steamy dog poo. Aren’t they embarrassed yet? The entire hockey world is laughing at management and the whole structure. How can they still feel entitled? Everyone and I mean everyone is laughing at them. Panthers fans make fun of the oilers on their forums. Ouch!

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    I don’t necessarily believe that Eakins is “the right guy” but something to remember is that he’s MacT’s guy. MacTavish brought him in because he coaches the way that he wants his team coached.

    Eakins has definitely made some rookie mistakes, but I think he’s committed to making the team play the way he and MacT believe the game should be played. Best case scenario: this year was the result of growing pains and Hall/Eberle/Yak/etc. eventually learn how to play the chip & chase 200ft. hockey that they believe will lead to success. Worst case scenario: Eakins/MacT’s vision of the game doesn’t work well with skilled players, the message gets lost, and the young players’ confidence gets ruined.

    I guess time will tell, but if Eakins can turn guys who have a tendency to float and make ill-advised decisions with the puck into hard working players who play aggressive defence, the team will definitely improve. I’m sick of waiting to see if this team will get better, but I’m also sick of watching Gagner and Eberle glide around and play weak defence. One thing will change when the other does…

  • Anton CP

    No one was hiring a coach for them to learn the job. Coaches are not like players, it is simple and cutthroat that either you can do it or you can’t. Culture change might be needed, but if the change is for the worst, what’s the point for the change then? Just so they can suck in different ways?

    • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

      Every coach should be learning on the job. Mike Babcock has said that coaching is a process of constant learning, evaluation and adjustment; even after winning a cup, you still have to look for ways to improve your team.

      Again, I’m not saying Eakins is the guy to lead this team to the promised land. I’m just saying his philosophy parallels MacT’s approach and that’s why he was hired and why he hasn’t been fired. I believe that if they can turn the young skilled guys into defensively responsible players who can kill the occasional penalty and handle D-zone starts, the team will definitely improve and won’t just “suck in different ways”.

      All that being said, MacT loved blue collar guys (Reasoner, Moreau, Petersen) and didn’t really work with much elite skill. I hope his philosophy works, but I’m not sure if it will.

      • Anton CP

        After almost the entire season, in which department that Oilers have shown any signs of improvement? That’s the concern I have regarding Eakins performance as HC.

        • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

          MacTavish said in his presser a couple weeks ago that he likes how Dallas has the team playing and he expects Eakins to be the coach “for a long time”. MacT also thought that Grebeshkov could help the Oilers blue line this year too, so I’m not sure if his assessment is necessarily valid, but that’s his opinion and ultimately it’s his decision if Eakins gets fired or not.

          I get the feeling that after the coaching carousel from the past few years, MacTavish would be inclined to believe that continued poor play will be more of an indictment on the players than the coach and he’ll jettison players that don’t seem receptive to playing within the coach’s systems.

          Remember, it’s not like this team was good before Eakins got here. MacT made it clear that he didn’t agree with Krueger’s systems and he fired him so he can have a guy teach the game the way he wants it played. Last year the team proved they weren’t capable of playing playoff type hockey if they consistently cheat for offence in an effort to outscore their opponents. Eakins’ defence first style may or may not end up being correct, but it’s how the GM wants his team to play.

          • Anton CP

            Unfortunately, that I understand what you were saying fully. It is just something that MacT needs to realize that being stubborn on certain decision making was one of the reason got him fired before. I do realize that MacT will not fire Eakins at least for another full season which will put Oilers as front runner for McDavid next season is truly sad.

          • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

            Agreed. Although if the Oilers get either McDavid or Eichel they’ve gotta turn this thing around eventually right??

            I’m tired of watching this team be terrible and I’m tired of the “wait till next year” talk. But I do believe they will at least start being competitive next year. If they continue to get decent goaltending and they can get their hands on a decent D-man who’s able to eat tough minutes, it almost won’t matter who coaches the team. They’ll be better.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems

    It’s the classic case of insecure management. Kevin Lowe doesn’t want someone below him that knows more about hockey than him,so he hires MacT so he can control him. At the same time MacT doesn’t want a coach below him who knows more than him so he hires Eakins. Eakins and MacT know they both shouldn’t have that job on a normal team so they are now in the pocket of who gave them a chance. The strings are all being pulled by Lowe, thus keeping the cycle of poor management forever ongoing.

  • Mo Playoffs Mo Problems


    I totally disagree with you.

    Look at the rest of the NHL, most teams have no name Dmen and yet they still win games.

    What’s wrong with Oilers Dmen now?

    The 2 Dmen on the ice can only cover their man behind the net or in front of the net. If he is covering a forward and that guy pass the puck to open guy in the slot and no Oilers forwards are covering him, then it’s easy tap in goal. DEFENSE is for all 5 players on the ice any time, not just the 2 Dmen. So many goals scored against the Oilers this year because the forwards are not doing their job. Turnovers from the players are not helping also.

    The Predators had Weber, number 1 Dman (everyone wants), yet they are not making the playoffs. Top Dman will not win games if the rest of the team is not playing team defense.

    The Avs has no name Dmen (Erik Johnson still a young guy at 26) and yet they won 50 games this year. They were 29th place team last season.

    Also the HEAD coach teach the team the system, the assistants coaches implement that in practice. So bringing in new assistants to teach the lame system the Head coach preach will not improve the team.

    In previous years Oilers power plays and penalty kills were near the top of NHL. Why are they so bad this year? It’s because of Eakins system, if assistant coaches use same format from Krueger or Renny then their PP and PK would still good and not bad this season.

    The coach make the team better with what he has. The defense is only good if everyone on the ice cover their man.

    That’s the difference from good and bad teams. Good coaching and the team playing as a unit.