The Edmonton Oilers made it official today, naming Dallas Eakins their new head coach and twelfth in franchise history. The Oilers signed Eakins to a four-year deal, terms not disclosed but this length of contract shows the team’s commitment to him and should give him the chance to have an influence on the club.
His press conference was impressive and it’s safe to say that Coach Eakins doesn’t mess around. He is here to do a job and he already has his work boots on. From where I am standing, as an Oilers fan, I’m impressed with what I heard today. While that’s a long way from translating into on-ice success, it’s positive to hear the message that Eakins brings to the hockey club. Here’s more on from the press conference.
Eakins believes that every player is unique and he will make a point to get to know how each player thinks and what makes them tick. If that means one-on-one meetings over lunch or at the coffee station, he wants to find out more about them. He also said that he doesn’t coach a team, rather he coaches individuals and that the best way to coach is one-on-one.
The new coach made it clear right from the beginning that he is committed to character, a high level of fitness, tactical and most importantly, competition. He said every player will compete if they want to play for the Oilers and it was stressed several times throughout the question and answer period.
When asked about his current coaching staff that will surround him, Eakins stated that he would take a few days to get to know everyone in the organization before making any decisions on their futures. Interestingly enough though, he did have high praise for Paul Maurice stating his influence on him as a coach. You may recall Maurice was a candidate to bring on as an associate coach when Ralph Krueger suggested the idea to Craig MacTavish. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Eakins brought Maurice on board.
Eakins also admitted that he reads every newspaper article on the Oilers so he knows what his players are reading. Jonathan Willis from the Edmonton Journal tweeted an amusing response to this, saying this is a change from Ralph Krueger who never follow anything.
Perhaps the most encouraging statements came when Eakins addressed the media about his plans to ensure the Oilers are playing at the highest level possible.
He stated that he doesn’t believe being talented is enough. He reinforced that this hockey team will “push the pace with our skill, our speed, our fitness level and our physicality.” There’s that fitness level talk again. He further reiterated that fitness will be a core issue for his team and “while it might be tough for some to buy-in, it’s non-negotiable. ” Talk about music to an Oilers fan’s ears.
A new chapter has officially begun in Edmonton and with the regular season still months away, it’s easy to get excited about this new coach.
Welcome to Edmonton Dallas Eakins. I think we’re going to enjoy having you.