Dallas Eakins’s tour around the NHL added yet another stop over the weekend. The Toronto Marlies head coach has become a coveted name as various teams look for coaching replacements this spring, with the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks all expected to speak with him before making a hire. The latest to meet with Eakins was new Oilers‘ GM Craig MacTavish, who was in Toronto as part of the NHL combine last week and took time to pick the brain of the bench boss of the Maple Leafs’ affiliate in a 1-on-1 setting. What’s different about the Oilers interest in Eakins is that they already have a head coach in Ralph Krueger, who isn’t believed to be on the hot seat. Instead, Edmonton is trying to add an associate coach who can bring something to the table on the technical side of the game, giving Krueger and current assistants Kelly Buchberger and Steve Smith another voice to help develop some of their young talent and win more games next season. The Oilers have also been looking at recently deposed Canucks assistant Rick Bowness and long-time head coach Paul Maurice, but Bowness is out of the mix after signing on to be Jon Cooper’s associate coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Eakins has long maintained that he believes his next step will be as an NHL head coach, noting that he already has two years as an NHL assistant – in 2006-07 and 2007-08 with the Leafs under Maurice – and wasn’t interested in returning to the role. But what the Oilers are looking for is someone to step in one rung higher as an associate coach – a situation where Eakins would be considered second-in-command and first to take over in case of a firing – and there’s no question the Marlies coach could be an excellent fit with a young, up-and-coming team. That was believed to be the basis for MacTavish’s sell job, one that can only work if Eakins doesn’t get an offer to be a head coach elsewhere. 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.
Oilers job a good fit for Dallas Eakins – if he wants it
The Globe and Mail | Jun 3