At the end of this season, the three-year contract that Dallas Eakins signed as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks in 2019 will expire. With the team now under new management after hiring general manager Pat Verbeek earlier this year, some questioned whether Eakins would be retained. Elliott Teaford of the OC Register reports that the team is expected to retain Eakins for at least one more season, with Verbeek set to clarify the situation this week. The Athletic has also reported that the Ducks coach will be back in 2022-23, and notes that the original deal may have contained an option for a fourth year.
Eakins, 55, has been with the Ducks organization since 2015, first serving as head coach of the San Diego Gulls for four seasons before taking over behind the Anaheim bench in 2019. During his time at the NHL level, the team has had middling results, though the development of players like Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, and especially Troy Terry has been celebrated.
Once a rising star in the coaching ranks, expected to have a long, successful career, Eakins’ first chance behind the bench of an NHL team didn’t go well. In 2013 he was hired as the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, a team loaded with young talent that included the 25-and-under group of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, David Perron, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov, and Jeff Petry. Things almost immediately went south, and after missing the playoffs badly in his first year, Eakins was dismissed just 31 games into his second season with the Oilers.
Again, though, he showed he could get outstanding results at the AHL level, taking the Gulls to the playoffs three times and winning four total playoff rounds. When Randy Carlyle was fired by the Ducks in 2019, Eakins became an obvious choice to replace him after paying his dues at the minor league level. Still, the organization took its time and interviewed several other candidates before eventually handing him the job.
Now, after some early success this season, the Ducks once again find themselves well below .500 and outside the playoff picture. They sold off several key players at the deadline and will lose captain Ryan Getzlaf at the end of the year to retirement. There should be a ton of pressure on Eakins and the team to take another step forward next season, especially if his contract is only extended by one year.