Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke announced earlier today that Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins was re-signed for three more years as the bench boss of the AHL affiliate of the Leafs.
The announcement comes during the AHL Calder Cup Finals, in which the Marlies trail 2 games to none by the Norfolk Admirals, affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Additionally, the Leafs brought on former Anaheim Ducks bench boss Randy Carlyle on for coaching duties after relieving Ron Wilson in a rapidly declining season with modest hopes after a moderate start to the season.
Eakins was a suspected candidate to fill Wilson’s shoes, but, instead, Burke opted to bring in someone with prior championship experience in the NHL, while leaving Eakins in his role to continue his success down there.
“Dallas is a wonderful teacher for our players in the American Hockey League,” said Burke. “He has a great understanding of the game and what it takes to be a successful professional player, both on and off the ice. He’s a huge contributor to our overall hockey organization and we are pleased to have Dallas and the entire coaching staff under contract.”
The contract extension allows for plenty of speculation. But if Carlyle can’t steer the ship around next season, then it’s quite possible that Burke would like to have Eakins on stand-by if another bench boss move is necessary.
In the last 20 years, the Leafs are now on their seventh coach. With the low patience in Toronto, there’s no telling how soon within the next three years Eakins will be called up.
But to reassure that Eakins won’t leave a void if called up, assistant coaches Gord Dineen and Derek King also signed contract extensions. (Note: Gord is the brother of Florida Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen.)
Game 3 of the Calder Cup Finals is Thursday.