ESPN has taken a beating over their recent lists of top defenseman and more noticeably their top forwards across the NHL that their so called “experts” ranked this week. In the final installment of their ranking series they listed who the experts believed to be the league’s top coaches. Surprisingly they gave the Oilers new bench boss, Dallas Eakins, some love.
According to the ESPN website, yes they have a designated tab for the NHL, Eakins is ranked 22nd when comparing him to his counterparts. Is this showing him love? Considering he hasn’t coached a single minute in the big leagues and when looking at who is behind him, that position is actually a fair one. I know, it’s hard to believe that ESPN may have actually pleased us Oilers fans.
The ranking has Eakins ahead of Mike Yeo from the Minnesota Wild who has been behind their bench for two years which includes a postseason birth. So that argument could be made that these experts may have gaffed on this list yet again.
Aside from Yeo, Eakins is ahead of Claude Noel from the Jets, Kirk Muller of the Hurricanes, Patrick Roy of the Avalanche, Kevin Dineen of the Panthers, Jon Cooper from Tampa Bay, Ron Rolston from Buffalo and gratefully, Bob Hartley of the Flames.
Truth be told, Hartley finished second to last on the list, even after one season that saw the Flames in the playoff picture up until the trade deadline. The specifications on the ranking is listed as “based on his current ability to guide and motivate his team” and Hartley was expected to make the playoffs last year in Calgary, before they traded Jarome Iginla, so he took one on the chin for his sub-par performance behind the bench.
Eakins has made waves across the main stream media the minute he took over the bench back in the spring, demanding a top physical fitness level and a compete/work ethic that most players have never seen before.
He has renewed optimism in Oilers Nation based on his straight to the point and forward way of thinking. This Oilers team won’t get out-worked on many nights this year, a trait that will make them more competitive from last year. Perhaps these new mind sets have these experts believing that Eakins is the man for the Oilers, to take them to the next level and compete for a playoff spot. Time will tell for Eakins if he’s deserving of this high of a ranking as he enters his first season in the NHL.