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Columnist: If the Oilers lose tonight, Eakins will be fired

Zack Kassian, Justin Schultz, Jesse Joensuu

Edmonton Oilers’ head coach Dallas Eakins, center, stands on the bench above David Perron, from left to right, Sam Gagner and Ryan Jones during third period NHL hockey action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)


Yesterday on TSN’s Insider Trading segment (video), reporter Darren Dreger said it’s “going to have to get a lot worse” for the already-in-pretty-bad-shape Edmonton Oilers before GM Craig MacTavish fires head coach Dallas Eakins.

And that’s consistent with what’s been reported elsewhere, that MacTavish is working the phones and will opt to make a trade before Eakins is relieved of his duties.

Still, with the Oilers on a 10-game losing streak, at least one Edmonton-based columnist believes a loss tonight in Winnipeg will lead to a change behind the bench.

From Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

My suspicion is that he will be let go after a loss on Wednesday in Winnipeg, and MacTavish will take over behind the bench with assistant Craig Ramsay. Eakins was never ready for this job, and like his predecessors, has let the young players run amok, with leashes so long that the rank and file players simmer every time they suffer another minus on yet another egregious Taylor Hall giveaway.

Perhaps Spector is just playing a hunch. After all, the Oilers have three days off following tonight’s game, i.e. plenty of time for a press conference before Sunday’s home date against San Jose. If there was ever a time to fire Eakins, this week would be it. The team doesn’t have another real break in the schedule until Christmas.

It also may be worth mentioning that the Oilers were reportedly “preparing to make a coaching change” in late October, only for the club to temporarily right the ship and, at least according to the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons, save Eakins’ job.

You can choose yourself who to believe in all this.

The bottom line is, no matter how forcefully MacTavish has stood behind Eakins in the past, and no matter how much players like Hall have voiced their support for the embattled coach, and, of course, no matter how tantalizing the prospect of drafting Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel may seem, it just can’t keep going on like this. Either the team starts winning, or the GM makes a significant trade, or there’s a coaching change.

Edmonton, by the way, will enter tonight’s game with an 0-12-3 record against Western Conference opponents.