The Anaheim Ducks have had an abysmal season so far. They currently sit at a 17-22-5 record, good for second-worst in the Western Conference. This poor play has started a roar from some fans, calling for head coach Dallas Eakins‘ dismissal. While it may be a thin-veiled request, it does beg the question: is it time for Eakins to part ways with the struggling Ducks?
Is it Time for Dallas Eakins to Leave Anaheim?
His Time in the AHL
Dallas Eakins was hired into the Ducks organization in 2015, as the head coach of the freshly minted San Diego Gulls of the AHL. He was looking to bounce back after a dismal showing as head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers where he went a combined 36-63-14 through one-and-a-half years. When he made it to the Gulls he seemed to be a new man. The Gulls went 154-95-23 and made 3 appearances in the Calder Cup Playoffs under Eakins. He seemed to be doing really well as head coach of the Gulls when the opportunity to be an NHL head coach came knocking again.
Promotion to Anaheim
The Anaheim Ducks relieved Randy Carlyle of his duties as head coach for the second time on February 10, 2019. The Ducks had not been performing well under Carlyle’s “new” system that was mostly just dump-and-chase. After he was let go, general manager Bob Murray stepped in as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Ducks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011-12.
On June 17, 2019, the Ducks announced that Dallas Eakins was named the franchise’s 10th head coach. This was met with skeptical optimism from the fans. His systems are proven at the AHL level and time would tell if they would translate to the NHL level.
So far this season the Ducks have been underperforming. Although it’s not Coach Eakins’s fault. The team shows flashes of brilliance. In a game against Nashville, a bitter rival, the Ducks put up three goals in just under 5 minutes. The team is headed in the right direction but they are plagued by injury and growing pains in the younger players.
The transition from the dump and chase to a system that relies on speed and puck handling hasn’t been an easy one. Some of the players on the Ducks roster have only ever played that style. Ryan Getzlaf had played under the dump and chase method for nearly all of his 14-year career. Most of the younger players have played using Eakins style but the transition into the NHL is not an easy jump. Given time and commitment to the system, the team will do better. Speed and puck handling through the neutral zone instead of hitting center red and shooting it in will do the team wonders. After everyone syncs up and is on the same page, a turn around is certain.
Should Coach Eakins be worried?
The question that started this article was “Is Dallas Eakins job at stake?” and the answer is no. He hasn’t been given a fair shake yet. His systems are still being translated and the younger players still coming into their own. If the team is still suffering this time next year, he may be at risk. But for the time being, he is safe.