Oilers' Coach Dallas Eakins Frustrated But Who's to Blame?

Anytime a new coach ventures into a Canadian market in the NHL, he will experience extreme scrutiny over his decisions, strategy andnresults on the ice.  Not to mention he will feel like he lives under a microscope 24/7 and it only intensifies when your team isn’t winning.  Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins is living through this exact scenario as rookie coach of the proud Alberta hockey club.

He’s frustrated, there is no doubt about that.  He’s used brilliant analogies comparing this year’s remodel of the team to a rennovation, stating “he knew  it would be messy, but not this messy.”  His hockey team is struggling, skating to a dismal 3-9-2 record through the first month of October.

Furthermore, yesterday during his press conference after practice he stated that his 5-year old child is being teased at school over the results of the Oilers.  Yes, some people’s kids are a model of their parent’s and it’s unfortunate that a young child has to endure that type of non-sense. It’s downright sad.

But Eakins can take the criticism and he hears the fans frustration.  He’s said he loves the passion that the Edmonton fans bring and prefers to coach in a city that cares about it’s hockey team.

When a new coach takes over it takes time for the player’s to fully adapt to his new systems and style.  Look at the Washington Capitals last year when Adam Oates took the reins.  It was a good month before they got rolling.  But that’s the key, “when” they  got rolling.

So far with the Oilers it’s been an inconsistent bunch that shows up on game nights, rarely putting together a 60-minute effort. Other nights they out-shoot their opponents and can’t buy a goal if it was their last dollar.

Eakins has said he likes what the numbers are telling him, from the advanced stats that hockey is succumbing to.  Much like baseball, the game on ice is now measured by statistics that are far more advanced than just shots on goal, save percentage and plus/minus.  The coach is happy with what he’s seeing via the numbers and he likes the matchups that he’s creating, it’s just not leading to an abundance of wins yet.

Back to the players.  This team is loaded with offensive talent and while they are scoring their share of goals, there are nights when the team’s top players don’t put in an honest effort.  There are some nights when you forget that Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are even playing.

Yes the defence is weak and the goaltending has been less than decent, to be polite.  But do you lay the blame at the feet of the coach?  Or should the players be the ones who need to be held accountable? Afterall, they’re the ones on the ice.

Forget firing Eakins, it is not happening.  And why should it?  Give the man a chance to work with these players a little bit would you please?  Rather, hold the players more responsible for the team’s poor start.  Inconsistent play, lack of work ethic on some nights and sloppy play has put them in this position.

Sure Eakins admits to making mistakes when implementing the swarm, but he’s owned up to it.  A good coach will adjust and that’s what Eakins has admitted he’s doing.  Line juggling, different defensive tactics etc, etc. It’s a work in progress, but it will take time.  Everyone is frustrated, even this lifelong Oilers fan.

A coach can only do so much and eventually the players need to be held responsible, if their actions aren’t there to back up what they say they want.  They want to win, well start playing like you give a damn.

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