Through his first 14 games on the job, Dallas Eakins has not been able to turn around the Edmonton Oilers.
The team currently sits dead last in the Western Conference early in Eakins’ first season as head coach, falling to 3-9-2 after Tuesday’s 4-0 blowout loss to Toronto at home. Fourteen games is far too early to judge any coach’s success or failure, but Eakins says he’s already hearing it from fans in hockey-crazed Edmonton.
"I’m walking my daughter to school yesterday, and I got one kid yelling to everybody, ‘That’s the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers,’" Eakins told reporters on Thursday. "And my 5-year-old gets all excited, because ,‘Oh yeah, that’s my daddy.’ And then I got another kid yelling ‘You suck.’ And then the look on my daughter’s face is one of … something different."
Hear Eakins describe his run-in with the young hecklers in the video below:
The Gretzky-era Oilers were the class of the NHL in the late 1980s, but the franchise has since fallen into a constant state of mediocrity. Apart from a surprising trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2005-06, Edmonton has missed the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons and finished with more wins than losses just three times since the 2004-05 lockout.
Still, Eakins is confident that he can return the team to its former glory.
"I understand the passion," he said, via the Edmonton Journal. "I understand the guy who yells out of his car at me when I’m at the gas station, then speeds away. I understand people, as I walk into a restaurant, murmuring something under their breath. I’m OK with it. When we do turn this thing around … that passion will turn the other way. The guy at the gas station will probably buy me my gas and the people in the restaurant are probably going to buy me dinner. So if I’m OK with that part of it, I’d better be OK with this."