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In firing Eakins, MacTavish admits there’s ‘blood all over my hands’

Craig MacTavish.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish announces the firing of head coach Ralph Krueger during an NHL hockey news conference in Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday, June 8, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jason Franson)


Craig MacTavish still thinks Dallas Eakins is an “excellent coach,” just like he thought in the summer of 2013 when he picked Eakins to coach the Edmonton Oilers.

It was all the losses the GM could no longer stomach.

“I had no real good reason to do this, outside of performance,” MacTavish said today after he’d fired Eakins, one day after Edmonton had lost for the 15th time in 16 outings.

“That’s really the bottom line that we’re all judged by, is the performance level of the hockey club, and certainly the record (7-19-5). And I would point to those things solely as the reason for this change.”

For the next little while, MacTavish will “step in and take over the coaching duties of the team"; however, the plan for the rest of the season is for Todd Nelson, the organization’s AHL head coach in Oklahoma City, to “transition” into the job on an interim basis. Who coaches the Oilers next season remains up in the air.

Also of note from today’s press conference? Unlike 10 days ago when MacTavish put much of the blame for the Oilers’ struggles on previous management regimes, this time he accepted at least part of the responsibility.

“There’s blood all over my hands in this too as well, because I put the lineup together and the roster, and I’m not here to absolve myself of accountability for the situation that we’re in,” said MacTavish, who has talked often about the importance of accountability from the players.

“Nor am I here to solely blame Dallas for the job that he did, because in my mind he did a lot of really good things for our group. ... I think he brought them a significant distance. ... It’s just the compounding of the losses that led me to this decision.”