The Vancouver Canucks will have no shortage of quality candidates available for their head coaching vacancy, but they need to be careful and make sure they select the right person for the job. The next head coach has some big shoes to fill, as he will succeed a coach in Alain Vigneault who was the winningest in franchise history, but saw playoff disappointment cancel out a great deal of regular season success. One name that has frequently come up for the Canucks is Dallas Eakins, an AHL coach who has also drawn interest from other teams.
The Canucks have received permission from the Toronto Maple Leafs to speak to Eakins, who just finished his fourth season as head coach of the Toronto Marlies. He served as a Maple Leafs assistant for two season before taking that job, and has posted a winning record in three of his four seasons of leading the Marlies. Under his leadership, the Marlies reached the Calder Cup Finals last season (44-24-8 record) and the second round of the playoffs this season (43-23-10 record). He may not have a lot of experience at the NHL level, but something about Eakins has drawn the interest of the Canucks. A former NHL defenseman that played more than 100 games for eight different teams, Eakins was instrumental in developing some of the players that helped the Maple Leafs reach the playoffs this season. Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner and Matt Frattin all flourished with the Marlies before being called up and with the Canucks mixing in more and more young players like Jordan Schroeder and Frank Corrado this may be a good fit. The ability to deal with and get consistent results from star players like Henrik and Daniel Sedin is something that will be vital for the next head coach, and could lead to the Canucks going with a veteran coach like Lindy Ruff or John Tortorella.
Eakins seems likely to get a head coaching job somewhere next season, even if it isn’t with the Canucks. There’s a lot of pressure with this high-risk, high-reward job opening, but given his track record it would be hard to bet against Eakins if he does get a chance.