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‘This team is going to compete,’ vows new Oilers coach Eakins

Dallas Eakins

Dallas Eakins wants to get to know the Edmonton Oilers. And he wants to do it soon, because until he knows each of them individually, he won’t know how to motivate them.

In other words, get ready for lots of coffee and lunch dates, guys.

“The way you coach players now is you get them one on one,” Eakins said today during his introduction as the new head coach of the Oilers.

“You’ve got to know them inside out.”

In addition to vowing to discover each of his players’ unique motivations, inspirations, and goals, Eakins made one big, overriding promise: “This team is going to compete.”

The Oilers -- stocked with three first overall draft picks and other top, young prospects -- missed the playoffs for the seventh straight time in 2013. As a result, Steve Tambellini was fired as general manager and replaced with Craig MacTavish and head coach Ralph Krueger was dismissed in favor of Eakins.

According to MacTavish, the Oilers met with Eakins last Saturday in Toronto for four hours. Immediately, it was felt that Eakins would be “better served in a primary role” as opposed to taking on a “secondary position” like associate coach. A follow-up meeting occurred Sunday and a contract was negotiated during the week.

Today, MacTavish lauded Eakins for his ability to relate well to young players, which was “important to us for obvious reasons.”

The Oilers’ GM also called Eakins “unflappable” throughout the entire hiring process -- a trait that will surely be tested in a hockey-mad market that’s desperate for a winner.

“This isn’t about winning one game or winning one season,” Eakins said. “We want to be in the mix every year to win.”

Related: Lowe reiterates Oilers’ willingess to trade seventh overall pick