Blue Jackets assistant coach Keith Acton, one of the architects of the team's strong penalty kill in 2012-13, has opted to leave the organization.
After one season in Columbus under head coach Todd Richards, Acton was named associate coach of the Edmonton Oilers this morning. Acton, who spent 10 years as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, joins the staff of newly-appointed Oilers coach Dallas Eakins, whom he knows well from his days in Toronto.
Eakins and Acton were both assistant coaches under former Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice, who had been rumored to be in the mix for the Oilers job that Acton recently accepted. Before taking the job in Edmonton, Eakins was head coach of the Toronto Marlies (AHL).
"(Acton) was a great learning tool for me, a guy I highly respected," Eakins said (via Oilers TV) of their time together in Toronto. "He covers a lot of the things we need. We need a real good technical coach, a guy who understands young players and a guy that understands some young center ice men.
"We were fortunate enough to get permission from Columbus. They were great in letting him talk to us, and we were able to strike early and fast."
Acton was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the sixth round, 103rd overall, at the 1978 NHL Draft. He made his debut with the Canadiens during the 1979-80 season and went on to register 226 goals, 358 assists, 584 points and 1,172 penalty minutes in 1,023 career NHL games with Montreal, the Minnesota North Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and New York Islanders. He tallied a career-high 36-52-88 with 88 penalty minutes in 78 games with Montreal in 1981-82.
Richards, who brought Acton and Craig Hartsburg on his staff to join incumbent Dan Hinote last year, is now in the market for an assistant coach. Richards told Blue Jackets radio voice Bob McElligott today that Hinote would be among the candidates to replace Acton, saying he would get "great consideration" for the position.
When Richards served as interim head coach of the Blue Jackets in 2012, Hinote was one of his assistants on the bench.