Anaheim Ducks Give Dallas Eakins Second Chance As NHL Head Coach


Dallas Eakins has carved out an excellent career as a minor league coach, but struggled in his one NHL stint with the Edmonton Oilers. Despite this, the Anaheim Ducks feel the time is right to give him another shot and he’s been named as the club’s new head coach with a shiny new three-year contract.

The 52-year-old native of Dade City, Florida was drafted into the NHL as a defenseman by the Washington Capitals back in 1985 with the 208th overall pick. He played just 120 games in the big league though and racked up a total of nine assists. At the time, he was just the second Floridian to play in the NHL, but he went into the record books as being the first to record a point in the league. Eakins was also the first native of the state to play for the Florida Panthers.

Eakins certainly earned some frequent flyer miles and got the most out of his luggage during his playing career as he played with eight different teams during his tenure; the Panthers, Winnipeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Calgary Flames.

Like his coaching career up to now, Eakins spent most of his playing days in the minor leagues between the American Hockey League and International Hockey League. He notched 222 points in 882 regular-season games on 43 goals and 179 helpers while playing for 10 different teams. He found some success though as he won both the Turner Cup and Calder Cup while skating with the Chicago Wolves.

After his skates were hung up, Eakins turned to coaching and was hired as an assistant with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL and then promoted to the same job with the Maple Leafs in 2006. He was named the bench boss of the Marlies in 2009 and did an excellent job with the team until leaving after the 2012/13 campaign when he was named head coach by the Edmonton Oilers. He took the Marlies to the Calder Cup Final in 2011/12 where they were swept in four games by the Norfolk Admirals.

Eakins never got off the ground with Edmonton though and went 29-44-9 for 67 points in 2013/14. The team finished seventh in the Pacific Division and missed the playoffs. He returned to his post in 2014/15 but was fired after just 31 games with a record of 7-19-5. Eakins lasted 18 months with the Oilers with a mark of 36-63-14 in 113 contests.

Eakins now becomes the 10th head coach in the Ducks’ history and replaces the departed Randy Carlyle, who missed the playoffs with the team this year. However, he’s certainly not new to the Anaheim organization as Eakins was hired by the franchise in 2015 and spent the last four seasons as the head coach of their San Diego Gulls AHL club.

Bob Murray, Anaheim’s general manager and executive vice president, told the media:

Dallas is an outstanding head coach who has worked well with our players since joining the organization four years ago. He is a tremendous leader and strategist, and deserves this opportunity.

It’s hard to argue with Murray since Eakins went 154-95-23 with San Diego and also took the squad to the Calder Cup Playoffs in three of his four campaigns. The team has been the cream of the crop since the league’s Pacific Division was born in 2015/16 as it leads the division in points, wins and points percentage since then. In total, Eakins coached 584 regular-season outings in the AHL with a record of 311-209-64 and made the playoffs in five of the eight seasons.

Eakins realizes he may be somewhat fortunate to be getting another shot at the NHL considering how he fared with Edmonton. But hard work and success as seen him come full circle. He said it’s definitely an honor to be given the job and he hopes to be as successful as he was down in San Diego.

The Ducks haven’t been twiddling their thumbs since the season ended as the club also hired Dr. Jeremy Bettle as its director of high performance. In addition, senior vice president of hockey operations David McNab was given a  two-year-contract extension and Dave Nonis was promoted to assistant general manager from his previous position as consultant to the general manager. Nonis has been with the Ducks since 2015 and has formerly held the GM post with the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Meanwhile, McNab has been with the franchise since day one and spent 14 years as the assistant general manager.

It’s hoped that Bettle will be able to cut down on the team’s injuries this season and onward since they were decimated at times last year. He formerly worked for the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA as director of nutrition and strength and conditioning guru and also had a four-year stint with the Maple Leafs. In addition, he’s worked with several universities and rugby organizations.

It’s also been rumored that the Ducks are about to part ways with veteran winger Corey Perry who missed most of last season with a knee injury. He’s been with the team for 14 seasons after drafting him in 2003. GM Murray reportedly wants to trade him or buy out his contract if he has to. The 34-year-old Perry has played 988 games with Anaheim and won a Stanley Cup with them as well as a Hart Trophy.

The main reasons Perry is on the block are his age, recent health issues and his salary, which carries an $8.65 million salary cap hit. Murray’s going to have a hard time dealing that contract though unless he eats some of Perry’s salary and/or gives up a prospect at the same time. Also, Perry has a no-movement clause in his contract which means he’s going to have to agree to or dictate where he’s willing to play.

But whatever happens with Perry, the hiring of Eakins and other front office moves means the Ducks will be sporting some new feathers next season.