Skip to main content

Dallas Eakins

Dallas Eakins is known to fans nowadays as an outspoken coach, but he was a long-time and well-travelled player, too. Sixteen pro seasons in seventeen cities, including 120 NHL games with seven different teams.

To do so, Eakins had to travel the weirdest of routes.

He was always a vagabond. Damien Cox of the Toronto Star tells us his origin story.

"Eakins was born in Dade City, Fla., the son of Carol Ploof, a native of Macon, Ga., and a native American, Ted Yoder, of no fixed address.

“My birth father was a drifter. Cherokee, I believe,” says Eakins. “He was a heavy, heavy drinker.”

The relationship between mother and father failed soon after his birth and young Dallas Yoder was left to grow up without a dad in what he calls “hillbilly country,” surrounded by alligators and water moccasins and other creatures large and small. His mother owned a .22 rifle and used it to shoot snakes in the backyard.

“My mom was a punch-first lady,” Eakins says.

His mother eventually met and married a Canadian, a long-distance truck driver named Jim Eakins. At the age of 7, Dallas, now adopted with a new surname and a sister five years his junior, headed north to a new home and a new country.

Hockey country.

By 1974 the family settled in Peterborough. Dallas began playing hockey. He quickly gained a reputation as the hardest worker on the ice, even before he was 10 years old. He would credit the fact he had to learn to skate at age 8 when all the other kids had been skating since the age of 3 of 4.

His work ethic got him rewarded with a job with Roger Nielson's hockey camp, allowing him to work on his own game.

By the time he reached junior hockey he would star for the famed Peterborough Petes. By his final year he was their best defenseman and named as team captain.

Jeff Twohey, long time junior hockey manager, called him the best captain Peterborough ever had - an enormous honor given the long list of greats to play for the Petes.

"Dallas was special. He was a great leader. He was a hard worker, loyal, tough, and never afraid to confront people. He knew how to keep players in line."

That leadership intangibles kept him employed through his long pro career, that included two stints with the Florida Panthers. He was the second Florida born player to play in NHL history.

It never came easy for Eakins, though. He was not drafted until the 10th round, 208th overall, by Washington. He was never the most talent guy on the ice. Heck, he never scored a goal in his 120 NHL games, and only 43 goals in 882 career minor league games.

But he understood talent alone meant little. It was commitment, discipline and loyalty that guided his life, and it took him far, first as a player and then as a coach.

"I am somebody who firmly believes that if you’re talented, just being talented is not enough,” Eakins preached when he was named head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

Eakins' stint in Edmonton, was short lived, but he remains a top young coach in the game.

"I don't coach a team, I coach individuals … You've got to get to know them, inside and out. I need to learn out what triggers them, what motivates them and look under every stone to see what makes them tick."


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M