Dallas Eakins was the coach for the Anaheim Ducks, but sadly, it was one of their worst four-year periods ever. Pat Verbeek knows that Eakins is not to blame entirely, but he still wants to start new by finding a different coach.
The Ducks announced on Friday that they won’t be renewing their contract with Eakins after four years of not doing so well. The day before, the Ducks had finished the season in last place and ended up with 23 wins, 47 losses and 12 draws.
Verbeek was talking about Dallas, saying there were lots of good things about him. He had been in a tough spot but handled himself well and showed dedication to the team and put in a lot of hard work. Today wasn’t fun for anyone, because Verbeek knew he had to do something difficult.
Coach Eakins joined the Ducks team in 2019 after leading four years of its AHL subsidiary in San Diego. He was appointed at the start of Anaheim’s downfall from an NHL powerhouse during the 2010s to a rebuilding club that had its lowest-ever points total this season (58).
The Ducks hadn’t been doing too great for the past four years – they didn’t finish any higher than 6th in their division and missed the playoffs 5 times in a row. This season, they were absolutely terrible at defending, making them the worst defensive team of this century!
Verbeek wanted to do something about that so he looked into it and came up with three solutions: He wanted someone else leading the team, some fresh ideas, and a different approach to go about doing things.
Verbeek was not clear when someone asked him to explain.
He said, “I think being recognizable and having an identity is important. The way we were used of spending time in our area before, could become hard for us growing if we stay on that path.”
Anaheim Ducks had a very bad season despite their talented young players like Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry and Mason McTavish. They allowed an NHL-record high of 338 goals and had the lowest goal difference (minus-129) plus they were last in goals scored with 209.
Verbeek thought the Ducks were going to do better than they actually did, which means that even though they didn’t finish well, they still have a good chance at getting Connor Bedard in the upcoming draft. He doesn’t see this bad season as them trying to lose games on purpose; he said some things he tried in the pre-season just didn’t work out.
Anaheim has a 1 in 4 (25.5%) chance to get the first pick of players at the draft, and their team will not fall lower than third place. This means that they can choose between Bedard or three other amazing prospects: Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson.
Verbeek also mentioned that he wants their team to compete harder than it currently is. He said that their performance isn’t up to his standard yet – meaning, it’s not good enough!
Eakins thanked the Ducks, their fans and the organization on social media by proclaiming his eight-year experience with them as a stirring and fulfilling one. Despite having to work with a team that didn’t seem capable of being successful in the NHL, he never openly complained. He also mentioned how grateful he was to former general manager Bob Murray and Pat Verbeek for giving him an opportunity. Last but not least, Eakins said that the enthusiasm and patience of the Ducks’ faithful will always be remembered.
In November 2021, the Ducks’ situation got worse when Murray left the team due to reports of him being mean to others. Verbeek took over in February 2022 and announced his plan for restoring the team over time.
Verbeek and Eakins had never met before, but Verbeeck gave Eakins the responsibility of managing their team with all its limited talent. The Ducks, led by Eakins, worked really hard but it took them a long time to improve their game and it often looked like a painful struggle.
Verbeek was still hopeful for what the future held though as they were going to get eleven new players in the next draft and nine in 2024.
Verbeek said that it’s hard to have an exact idea on when the young players will show improvements. He feels confident in the players they’ve selected and those that are still joining their team, but it will take time and experience for them to be ready enough for playoffs.
Verbeek wants a new coach for the NHL draft on June 28th who is hardworking, passionate and enthusiastic. Eakins’ is only the tenth head coach in Ducks history since Henry and Susan Samueli bought the team from Disney back in 2005. The Ducks won the very first California Stanley Cup title in 2007 and five division titles from 2013 to 2017.
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