Upon dismissing Vigneault, Canucks GM Mike Gillis spoke about the need for a new voice; a different message. With that in mind, a couple of sources told me on Thursday the Canucks are rather enamored of Eakins… and why not?
There are many names circulating as potential candidates to replace the fired Alain Vigneault as head coach of the Canucks. Scott Arniel was named a candidate by general manager Mike Gillis. A report in the Winnipeg Free Press indicated Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini wanted Phoenix Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett. Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens is another name that just emerged.
Eakins, 46, just completed the first year of a three-year contract signed last summer. The contract contains an out clause that allows him to pursue a NHL head coaching position for the 2013-14 season. This means any history between Gillis and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis won’t play a role in negotiations as the Canucks won’t need to seek position to interview Eakins.
“I’m fully aware that there have been some coaching changes, there’s opportunities out there,” Eakins told the National Post. “Will we look at them? Absolutely. In the quiet weeks moving forward, we’ll see if something fits and if it doesn’t.”
He is considered to be one of the brightest up-and-coming coaches and is credited with sending 11 players this year alone to the NHL. Eakins was a finalist for the head coaching position with the Calgary Flames last season and was considered as a replacement for Ron Wilson in Toronto before that.