If you are the typical fan of the National Hockey League when you think of the name Dallas Eakins there is likely only one team that comes to your mind, the Edmonton Oilers. It's a difficult reality for a former head coach who's career highlight is also arguably his greatest failure and it is made all the more difficult by the fact that he has had so much success everywhere else he has gone.
Eakins became a household name in the National Hockey League when his Edmonton Oilers became the laughing stock of the National Hockey League during his tenure behind the Oilers bench. The Oilers were very bad while Eakins was the coach of that team and his unusual and strict coaching style was often called into question and at times outright blamed for that poor performance from the Oilers. Since his departure however the team has not been much better and it has become abundantly clear that there are major issues running from the top of the Oilers organization all the way down to the bottom rung.
Well with talk that Eakins is now destined to be come the next head coach of the Anaheim Ducks organization he is speaking candidly for the first time about his failures in the National Hockey League and what might be different this time around. Although Eakins did point to some issues within the organization itself, when he was asked what went wrong in Edmonton the first person he blamed was himself.
“I (screwed) it up,” said Eakins as per Sportsnet, using more colorful language than that.
Eakins admitted that he attempted to make too many changes too quickly in his efforts to drastically shift the poisonous culture within the Edmonton Oilers organization. Eakins was asked if he felt the task of changing such a bad culture was too much to thrust on a rookie head coach, and he actually responded by suggesting that it was not. That being said though, he also subtly revealed that there were some major roadblocks to achieving that goal in Edmonton.
“I don’t think so. It’s your job to do it. But, take this (Anaheim Ducks) organization. I know what the culture of the Samuellis (owners Henry and Susan) is. I know what the culture of (GM) Bob Murray is. I know what the culture of (Ducks CEO) Michael Schulman is. Some of the things that you’d try to hammer down on in Edmonton, it was, ‘Hey, we don’t do that here.’ And I’d be like, ‘You don’t want to change this?’
In fact, although he did not explicitly say as much, it sounds like Eakins believes the culture change in Edmonton would require a very long term approach indeed.
“You’ve got to snicker when some team changes the coach, changes the GM, changes whomever, and they say, ‘We’re going to change the culture.’ Well, I hope he has seven years on his contract, because it’s going to take two years to get it right.
“I won’t say it was too much, but the great organizations – I’ve been in with the San Antonio Spurs, I’ve been in with the Seattle Seahawks – that culture doesn’t start with the coach. It runs right through the organization.”
Perhaps a not so subtle shot at Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz at the very end there.