Last season, in the midst of turmoil and chaos, Bob Murray fired an ever underachieving Randy Carlyle. The General Manager took over Carlyle’s spot on the bench and sported his fancy vest and tie look for the rest of the season, but now that the season is all done and over with, we can finally say that we have a new coach.
The Ducks and Bob Murray have announced that Dallas Eakins is to be the 10th coach in Ducks history. The only question that remains about the coaching staff now is how this experiment will work out for the 2019-2020 season. Perhaps looking into the history behind the man on the bench can provide an early answer.
Eakins was born in 1967 and was drafted to the Washington Capitals in 1985 after a life full of hockey. He spent two years in the OMHL, and another nine years between the OHL and AHL before getting his shot in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1992-1993 season. He had two assists and 38 PIM. Next, he’d find himself in his home state with the Florida Panthers. His stay was a short one, and over the remaining nine years of his career, he’d spend the majority of his time between the IHL and AHL. The other NHL teams he played with were the St. Louis Blues, the then Phoenix Coyotes, the New York Rangers, the New York Islanders, and the Calgary Flames. While his skill set was not based in scoring or even assists, Eakins was a big man and a fighter. Eakins had an NHL career total of 120 GP and 208 PIM. But what’s even more impressive is his stat line for the AHL. There, he had 609 GP and 1051 PIM. That, simply put, is an excessive amount of penalty minutes. His most notable accomplishments during his time outside of fighting included a spot in the IHL Second All-Star Team and winning the IHL’s Turner Cup in 1999-2000, as well as winning the AHL’s Calder Cup in 2001-2002.
A Start In Toronto
After years of fighting, Dallas called it quits in 2004 when he hung up the player skates one final time in Manitoba as their captain. He wouldn’t be gone from the AHL for too long, however, as he was hired as the assistant coach of the Toronto Marlies in 2005. The Marlies went 34-29-7 that year but unfortunately lost in the Quarterfinals. Paul Maurice, the new head coach of the Winnipeg Jets, gave Dallas Eakins his first bits and pieces of experience behind the bench wearing a suit instead of a sweater. The next two years, Eakins was the assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both years were 40 win seasons, but they weren’t good enough to make the playoffs. Eakins spent one more year with the Leafs as the Director of Player Development, and then, for the rest of his Toronto career, he became the head coach of the Marlies. He would coach the team for four seasons, with two of those seasons ending in playoff berths. 2011-2012 was Eakins’ best shot to hoist the Calder Cup, but he came up just short after being swept by the Norfolk Admirals in the Final. Ironically enough, Eakins had been swept by the then AHL team of the Anaheim Ducks.
Disaster Strikes Edmonton
In 2013, Edmonton Oilers GM Craig MacTavish decided to take a shot at hiring Dallas to the head coaching position of the team after seven years of horrible seasons. With Eakins having another shot at staying in the NHL, he tried his hardest to keep the Oilers in the mix that season, but unfortunately, losing was built into that whole team. They would end up going 29-44-9 that season after a lackluster team effort. 24-44-14 would end up being the record for the year after that, but Eakins was fired before the season was completed. Unfortunately for Eakins, his time in Edmonton was all for not. With the team of nothings, he accomplished just that. Nothing.
Rebirth In San Diego
Luckily for Eakins, his story was far from over. In January of 2015, the owners of the Ducks, the Samuelis, decided to bring the Gulls back to San Diego as part of the new AHL Pacific Division, and Dallas would find himself with a new coaching job come June. Three times before 2015, the Gulls existed in different leagues and had varying levels of success, but this was now the AHL, and Eakins was back in his own comfort zone. With the new talented group of young players he had in his possession, he got back to his winning ways with a 39-23-4 record, 2nd place in the Pacific. Over the next three years, Eakins would take the Gulls to the playoffs twice, earning a second-place and third-place spot in the division. Most recently, the Gulls got over the hump and made it to the Western Conference Finals. After the 2018-2019 season, Dallas Eakins had an AHL record of 278-209-75 from his head coaching tenures in Toronto and San Diego. On June 17th however, Bob Murray informed Ducks fans and players alike that Eakins would make his return to the NHL as the head coach of the Anaheim Ducks, and the rest is history waiting to be written.
Finally In Anaheim
After reviewing his history and statistics, it answers the question of why he was hired. Eakins is a great coach, but an even better developer. His tenure with San Diego alone produced Ducks greats like John Gibson, Brandon Montour, Shea Theodore, Ondrej Kase, Kevin Roy, Kevin Boyle, Kiefer Sherwood, and so many more. He’s even worked with most of the best up and coming prospects of the Ducks, such as Max Jones, Maxime Comtois, Sam Steel, Troy Terry, and Isac Lundestrom. Moving forward, his disastrous time in Edmonton gives Eakins the motivation to do an even better job in Anaheim than he did down in San Diego, all while working with a lot of the key pieces that he coached during their development.
In closing, Eakins has been through the best of times and the worst of times, and his past is what motivates him to create a better future. He’s developed his key players, he’s become a fixture of the Ducks organization, and now, he’ll have an interesting group of veterans and inexperienced players to work with for the 2019-2020 season.
It is yet to be seen how this experiment of throwing Eakins into that combo will work, but the history of Dallas Eakins answers the question of how hard Eakins will work to make this team compete every night on the ice. The answer would be,
“Pretty darn hard.”
Statistics Courtesy: eliteprospects.com Featured Image: Brantford Expositor, the Toronto Star, CBC Sports, the Athletic, and Fox Sports West