Eakins is the fourth coach in the past five seasons for the Oilers, who have not made the playoffs since reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2006.
“This isn’t about winning one game or winning one season,” Eakins said. “We want to be in the mix every year to win.”
The 46-year-old spent the past four seasons with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, reaching the Calder Cup final in 2012. That’s when Edmonton general manager Craig MacTavish, who was coaching the Chicago Wolves at the time, first noticed Eakins’ coaching acumen.
After interviewing Eakins at a Toronto hotel, MacTavish said Monday, he quickly realized it would make more sense to hire him as a head coach than an associate on Krueger’s staff.
Eakins was considered an up-and-coming name in NHL coaching circles. He reportedly drew interest from the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks, and MacTavish knew he had to move fast.
PREDATORS: Nashville secured the other piece of its top defensive line, signing defenseman Roman Josi to a seven-year, $28 million contract. He had 18 points in 48 games for the Predators this season, topping what he did as a rookie in 2011-12. He ranked 19th in the NHL in total minutes played and wound up playing 231/2 minutes a game, a jump of more than five minutes. He has 34 points in 100 regular-season games.
STARS: Dallas signed Sergei Gonchar to a two-year, $10 million contract after trading for the 39-year-old defenseman last week. The deal adds to the Stars’ veteran defensive core of Trevor Daley, Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas. Gonchar was fifth among NHL defensemen with 24 assists this season and was Ottawa’s second-leading scorer with 27 points.