Edmonton, AB (Sports Network) - The Edmonton Oilers officially named Dallas Eakins as the struggling franchise's new head coach during a Monday press conference.
Eakins landed his first NHL head coaching gig on the strength of a four-year stint directing the Toronto Marlies, the top minor league affiliate of the Maple Leafs. He guided the Marlies to the 2012 Calder Cup Final in his third season on the job, then led the club to a 43-23-10 record and a second consecutive North Division championship this past season.
The 46-year-old amassed an overall record of 157-114-41 with the Marlies, and previously served two seasons as an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs from 2006-08.
"I'm extremely confident in this man's ability to lead our hockey club," said Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish, who coached against Eakins in the AHL while manning the Chicago Wolves in 2011-12.
Eakins, a Florida native, becomes the fifth head coach in the last six years for an Edmonton squad that has missed the playoffs in seven consecutive seasons, but possesses some of the league's most promising young playmakers in recent No. 1 overall picks Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov as well as three-year pro Jordan Eberle.
The Oilers did display signs of improvement under previous head coach Ralph Krueger during the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign, posting a 19-22-7 mark and a third-place finish in the Northwest Division. However, Krueger was fired on Saturday after only one season, with MacTavish stating he was looking for a coach "that was more closely aligned with the way I wanted to run the team."
"In professional sports, winning is the bottom line," said Eakins. "Everything we do here will have that in mind. "We're going to be committed to character, a high fitness level and tactical hockey. This team is going to compete."
Prior to joining the coaching ranks, Eakins played in 120 games over parts of 10 NHL seasons with eight different teams as a defenseman.