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Eakins looks to bring culture change

New NHL coach Dallas Eakins knows that he has a lot to prove this season. And the fans, media and Oilers’ management are not going to let him forget that. We’ve already heard about the food changes for the media, and the off-season letters to the players but now we start to hear about what is happening during the season, behind the scenes in the locker room. The key message is personal accountability, and personal responsibility, so some things don’t change. What has changed is that Eakins is trying to give this responsibility a physical thing.

Addressing the media Tuesday morning, Eakins appeared stoic and serious but listening to his words, you can tell that he is still trying to be that players coach; a coach that any player can go to openly. While Eakins may not be either a softie or a hot-head, we’re still not entirely sure what kind of coach he is. After all, tonight will be his first regular season NHL as a head coach.

Regardless of what we know or don’t know, Eakins has been trying to make his mark in the Oilers’ locker room. First we heard of the makeover, the removal of all of the old Oilers’ pictures, replacing the photographs from the past with current Oilers telling the players that this is their room, they are the Oilers. Now, Eakins tells us that he has given each player a token that he asks they wear on their person at all times. Why? It’s a simple responsibility, something that the coach has asked of each of the players. It’s not so much about this small token; it’s more about what it represents.

“We’ve got a thing going on in the room, that we’re united. We’re always going to have something on us. Everybody that is in that dressing room, not only the players but the staff will have on us at all times. The challenge is to catch the other guy without it.

"For me we talked about it you can have a fine or the guy buy dinner or something, but I just had it know that it would be a great source of disappointment that if you can’t throw this in your pocket everyday or have it on you then how can we ask you to do the other things?”

It’s great to see that Eakins is trying something different to get the players to tow the line, as we know all kinds of players respond differently to all kinds of motivation. But every player should respond well to the team concept, to the idea of letting their teammates down and that’s just the idea that Eakins is trying to get across. Coaches come and go, but many of these players will be in the room for years to come, or at least in the league. Disappointing your teammates is something that can stick longer, than disappointing your coach. As Eakins later mentions, we’ll see how this works. With many new and developing faces in the Oilers’ locker room, something to pull the team together can’t be a bad thing.

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About Oil Patch

Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.

Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.

Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.

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