Dallas Eakins spoke with the media on Sunday, reflecting on the past season and the hard lessons that were learned after his rookie NHL campaign ended with a 29-44-9 record and 28th-place finish.
“You’re constantly learning. I don’t care if it’s your first year or you’ve been coaching for 20, it’s a nonstop process. It’s hard for me to pinpoint one thing. I underestimated the amount of time I was going to have to put into it personally,” Eakins began.
“I underestimated the sacrifice of my family. I already knew this coming from another market — and last night was a great reminder to me of how important my job is here. It’s so important to the city.
“You see what went on last night and you see how positive it can be and how alive the city can be. And there was no negativity last night. But here we sit where we’re at. We’re out of the playoffs. We’re in the 28th spot. We’ve got one of two things to do now: we can cower from it and hide or we can dig our heels in and come out of it.”
Eakins pointed to the latter option as one he sees his team fulfilling next season. From January 26 through to the end of the year, the team had a 14-12-3 record. Over the course of an entire season, that’s an 87-point pace which would put them only four points out of a playoff spot and in ninth in the conference.
“I think how we played over the last 30 games, I started to really see it. I think that was, if you want to pinpoint one thing, maybe it wasn’t a lesson but it was a reminder of how important the Edmonton Oilers success is to this great city. And it starts with me. And right behind me, our players.”