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"Go With The Flo"
Calgary, AB • Canada • 33 Years Old • Male
The tough of the track
With the wind
And the rain that's beating down on
Your back
Your heart's beating loud
And goes on getting louder
And goes on even more 'til the
Sound is ringing in your head

Who remembers Body Break? With Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod? They were 90 second PSAs that aired in Canada and encouraged active, healthy living. The one where they encouraged you to go out and pick up litter as exercise was easily my favourite. Anyway, this is where my nickname for Dallas Eakins (Body BrEakins) comes from.

With every step you tread
And every breath you take
Makes you run never stop
Got to win got to run 'til you drop
Keep the pace hold the race
Your mind is getting clearer
You're over half way there

(Br)Eakins is exactly what you expect a windbreaker wearing endurance athlete to look like. He has the look, the attitude, and the temperament down pat. It's really refreshing to see a head coach in the NHL who truly leads by example, especially physically. Wouldn't you rather listen to Eakins tell you to push the pace on the bike than, say, Hitchcock? Wouldn't you rather your coach only gets mad at you when you need to be held accountable, and not randomly like Tortorella?

But the miles they never seem to end
As if you're in a dream
Not getting anywhere
It seems so futile

Eakins is virtually guaranteed at least two seasons to prove himself. The futility of the last few years hasn't been helped by the annual coaching carousel. He is MacT's boy, and both he and MacT will be given an honest chance to prove themselves. And I love how he's an X and O type guy. He has a communicable plan for how to take concrete steps to make this team better. Let's review:

Extreme fitness -- Eakins sees no reason why the young, high flying Oilers can't be the fittest team in the league, and he's right. There is no excuse. He has assured the city that the players will "buy in."

Individual relationships -- The old way of doing things was to yell at your team until they did what you wanted. The new way is taking the time and effort to foster a 1 on 1 bond with each player, in order to properly understand what motivates them.

Discipline -- This is a combination of the first two. MacTavish didn't like how all around nice guy Ralph Krueger wasn't forceful on accountability, as long as he thought the player was "learning." Eakins will put a final exam in front of them on the first day.

Communication -- The head coach has said that this must be "constant, every day." Not only communicating in his new school way, but relentlessly, and daily. He also favours proactive communication over reactive; every player has already been thoroughly briefed on exactly what will be expected of them on the first day of training camp.

No more social stratification -- "No one will be judged on their contract or their age. They'll be judged on their performance. That's it. That's how I do things. I don't care if they make $500,000 or $5 million." Oh, so Yakupov won't be stuck on the third line? Hear that Ralph?

Take back the neutral zone -- The Oilers took a huge step backwards in this regard last season. Eakins was puzzled by Krueger's strategy in this area, and will be moving to a swarm/collapse system instead.

Winning the possession war -- Eakins' goal every night will be to control the puck for longer than the other guys. His philosophy of mobile, puck moving defenders and fit forwards who backcheck aggressively plays well into this.

Run over stiles across fields
Turn to look at who's on your heels
Way ahead of the field
The line is getting nearer but do
You want the glory that goes
You reach the final stretch
Ideals are just a trace
You feel like throwing the race
It's all so futile

There could be no greater metaphor for the upcoming season than what occurred as Dallas Eakins was finishing the Leadville 100 the other day. He held his daughter Emerson's hand and they crossed the finish line together. Over the next season or two, he will be expected to take the hands of the young Oilers and guide them into the playoffs for the first time since 2006. His resume and personal life suggest he is the man for the job.

I've got to keep running the course
I've got to keep running and win at
All costs
I've got to keep going be strong
Must be so determined and push myself on
Filed Under:   Oilers   Dallas Eakins  
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