In an exciting bit of news earlier this afternoon, the Maple Leafs extended Dallas Eakins’ contract as the head coach of the Marlies. Why in the middle of the Calder Cup Finals? The timing is such that the contract is both an endorsement of the head coach with his team down 2-0 in their series against Norfolk and a reward for his work behind the bench this season, win or lose.
The reupping of Dallas Eakins for three-years does not guarantee Eakins will remain Marlies head coach for the duration of the contract, but it does mean the fear of him leaving for NHL opportunity elsewhere is alleviated for one season. At least for another year, it saves our ears from the debate about whether or not Eakins should’ve been handed the job over Randy Carlyle back in March.
On his NHL readiness, Marlies GM Dave Nonis told Lance Hornby:Â ”We’re not going to hold someone back (from NHL), but he’ll tell you he still has a lot to learn.”
For another year at least, the Leafs have the best case scenario in terms of their coaching situation, with Eakins still in the organization developing players and the much more experienced Carlyle running the big club. You can bet the contract Eakins just signed is handsomer than most AHL head coaching contracts. In times like these you can appreciate the benefits the deep pockets of MLSE affords the hockey team when it comes to non-capped personnel. Â If the Leafs manage to come through this off-season down just Rick Dudley, they’re doing better than alright at keeping their collection of highly-regarded brain trust in Toronto.Â Keep putting the best people in charge and do everything in your power to keep them aboard; it’s bound to reap benefits eventually.
Elliotte Friedman has an interesting quote concerning Eakins’ eagerness to learn before taking the next step, and how the management team’s inclusion of Eakins in all facets of the organization’s hockey operations has been and continues to be a good learning process for him.
The other Leafs-related news today came in the trade and sign of goaltender Tomas Vokoun by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Vokoun, as confirmed by legitimate insiders like Bob Mckenzie and James Mirtle, was indeed willing to come to Toronto if Burke was interested in making a trade for his rights now rather than waiting until he hit unrestricted free agency. Signing a two-year deal with Pittsburgh, he could’ve been a middle ground solution between pursuing a name like Luongo and sticking with their young goalies in Scrivens and Reimer.
It appears Burke was not interested in deciding the team’s goaltending future this early into the off-season. The reasons as to why that is could be speculated on all day; maybe he didn’t want to add another goaltender without RFA Scrivens’ situation decided first, maybe his main focus is indeed on trading for Roberto Luongo… maybe he didn’t want to tie up any of his cap with a free agent target(s) in mind. Maybe he wasn’t interested in Vokoun at all.
Update: Elliotte Friedman reports the Leafs were not interested in Vokoun on a two-year deal.
If the plan is to pursue an experienced goalie through free agency, the best fish in the sea just got scooped up.