Former Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins helped the San Diego Gulls to a 39-23-6 finish in the franchise’s first season in the American Hockey League in 2015-16. It’s Eakins’ second go-around as a head coach in the AHL, having served behind the bench for the Toronto Marlies for four seasons before landing an NHL job in 2013.
Eakins was a guest on Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday and was asked about his feelings on the Oilers following another disappointing season. The Oilers pulled the plug on Eakins’ first NHL head coaching job after 113 games.
Edmonton finished the 2014-15 season under Todd Nelson, before Todd McLellan was hired ahead of the 2015-16 campaign. It was more of the same as the Oilers finished last in the Pacific Division.
Despite the finish to his tenure in Edmonton, Eakins hopes the Oilers can finally turn things around following a decade-plus of futility.
“That team has seen a lot of pain,” Eakins said. “I really wanted Todd [McLellan], who I think is just a great man—and I don’t know Peter [Chiarelli], but I’ve sat with him before, and the relationship that I had with those players there…you want everybody to do well.
“I don’t wish pain on anyone. I might have saw four periods this year of the Edmonton Oilers playing and it pained me again to see where they finished in the standings.
“My hope is though they get to restructure their lineup and get older and get experience and things will go well. That town dearly, dearly deserves some winning hockey.”
As for his future, Eakins is happy in his position with the Gulls but he’ll be ready if an NHL opportunity presents itself.
“When at my job or I’m at these coaching clinics, I’m going to be my absolute best,” Eakins said. “I think if I put those days together you get better, then your career kind of looks after itself.
“I’m having a wonderful time, I’m inspired in San Diego. I know we’re having a real positive effect and influence on our young men. If that turns into an NHL coaching job down the road then absolutely.”