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PRINCIPE: Designing Dallas

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Dallas Eakins is a coach first and an interior designer second. I haven't been to his new home in Edmonton so I don't know what he's done with his house. However, I have seen the personal touch he has put on the Oilers dressing room and I have to say I love what he's done with the place. It looks modernized as in a modern-day motif which includes more about the current Edmonton Oilers than past ones. That's a difficult line to walk but Eakins has been able to do it in his first week of training camp.

It started last week when the players showed up for the first on-ice sessions at Millenium Place and the dressing rooms were labeled. Not just with #1, #2 and #3 but with Team Gretzky, Team Messier and Team Kurri. Not a bad way to show up to work and walk into a locker room with titles after three of the greatest Oilers and players in the game of hockey. Again, it was an idea decided upon by Eakins. A way of celebrating the past and remembering what was done during one of the greatest stretches of success that any franchise has ever had in any sport let alone the one played on ice.

However that was a short-term decision with the Oilers skating in Sherwood Park for three days before they moved into Rexall Place and their home for the season. That's where the new coach's touch was very visible as soon as you opened the doors to the dressing room. Gone were the photos that hung in the hallway that precedes the entrance into the actual room. No more photos of the Glory Days. Instead, those were replaced by large can't-miss-if-you-tried pictures of current Oilers. Ones that play on the team now. There is one of Jordan Eberle, there's also one of Sam Gagner. Throw in Taylor Hall and you have a look at the nucleus of the 2013-2014 team.

Let me put it this way. You don't walk into someone's house, who is married, and see pictures of old boyfriends or girlfriends. Sure you may have had a successful relationship with people from the past but you've moved on. Your spouse is part of the present (and hopefully part of your future). You can't always look to and talk about what happened. At some point you have to start talking about what's going to happen. I don't think it's fair to the new generation of Oilers. They can't live up to what Wayne, Mark, Jari and company accomplished. Short of Chicago knocking off another few Cups in the next handful of years there is no one in the NHL who will accomplish what the 5 Cups in 7 years Edmonton Oilers did.

Dallas Eakins has respected the past but moved into the present. Not an easy thing to do when your bosses, Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe, were a part of that past success. Eakins is strong, confident and secure in his position. He's done something I think other coaches thought of but never had the confidence to do. This is his team and the locker room changes prove that to me. Next up for Dallas is designing a winning team.
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