Oilers’ General Manager Craig MacTavish originally went out shopping for an associate coach — a little first anniversary present for his man, Ralph Krueger. But, like a husband walking the mall in search of a gift for the wife, only to find himself drawn less to the jewelry stores and more to the family law offices on the second floor, MacTavish soon realized that what he really wanted was a divorce.
And so he fired up his Skype account and he fired Krueger in a flash. (It was a more fitting gift anyway. The first anniversary is the paper anniversary, so walking papers are more in line with the hierarchy than a shiny new associate.)
Now coachless, MacTavish did what any newly single man would do: he hit the market hard. Having keyed Dallas Eakins as his next target, and not long after hearing that Eakins had gone in for a second interview with the Vancouver Canucks and they might soon be getting serious, MacTavish sprung into action, got Eakins in the room, and made his best pitch.
When he left the room, Eakins was his. The next time Mike Gillis logged into Facebook, he saw that Eakins had changed his status to “in a relationship”, and then Eakins wouldn’t return any of his text messages, it was horrible.
Or something like that. In any case, if the Canucks were interested in Dallas Eakins to replace the recently-dismissed Alain Vigneault, he’s off the market. And now they have to look elsewhere.
For the time being, they’re left looking a little slow on the take, like Kevin McAllister arriving in the kitchen for dinner:
Yes, while Mike Gillis took his time, Craig MacTavish ate his pizza. Thomas Drance plays the role of a Pepsi-guzzling Fuller in this metaphor, exacerbating the situation for Gillis by wondering aloud if the coaching move showed “a hint of organizational analysis paralysis”.
While I love the term, since it rhymes and is gloriously cumbersome (much like the word “cumbersome” itself), it seems a touch on the dramatic side. While Eakins was the early front-runner — no one else had been given a second interview, at least that we’ve been made aware of — if he was officially Vancouver’s guy, they’d have offered him the position.
But they didn’t (that we know of), and not because they’re paralyzed, but because they have other candidates in the mix that are only just now become available. The first and, by all indications, foremost of these is John Stevens, the kitten-loving former Philadelphia Flyers coach that’s been with the Los Angeles Kings since 2010.
What might make him a better fit than Eakins? He has experience.
Not that Eakins will be a bad coach because he’s inexperienced, but you never know how someone’s going to react to their first time. You have to have time for that, and the Canucks, as constructed, are a little old for that scene.
If Stevens, not Eakins, was the Canucks’ first choice, then what’s the sense in choosing suitor number two before you even get to talk to suitor number one? There isn’t any.
And it’s not like Stevens is the only guy. Another name suddenly on the radar: Dan Bylsma, who could, conceivably, be dismissed in Pittsburgh as early as Wednesday, when Ray Shero is scheduled to address the media. If he becomes available, he skyrockets to the top of Gillis’s list.
I think it goes without saying that Bylsma would be a strong fit, but, as Tony Gallagher pointed out Tuesday, he even managed to strengthen his case when he met with the media after the Penguins’ playoff elimination. From The Province:
Dan Bylsma would indeed be the perfect coach for the Canucks if for no other reason than the fact he is already so well versed in goaltender controversies. He is able to say the most absurd things with a straight face, all brought about by some contract that was signed years ago forcing him to make a spectacle of himself.
Even though Marc-Andre Fleury cannot stop a beachball these days, Bylsma was able to stand in front of an assembled media throng and proclaim him the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie going forward, this after the guy looked like a kid trying to pick up his marbles in the schoolyard in his last two seasons of playoff play. And he managed to choke this out because Fleury has two more years at $5 million per left on his deal.
Tell us now, who better than to come in and assume the Roberto Luongo fiasco? Gillis has said he wants an experienced guy for this group. How could any coach more ably demonstrate his readiness for this job than with a performance like that?
Funny and true, that.
There’s a chance that Eakins was (or was about to become) the Canucks’ guy and they missed out on him by waiting to confirm it until they had interviewed another top candidate in Stevens — although if that’s the case, we’ll never know it. But the more likely story here is that the Canucks, unlike the Oilers, are comfortable taking a more patient approach, and the Eakins situation did nothing to dissuade them on that front.
Mike Gillis has earned some skepticism for playing the long game, what with the Roberto Luongo fiasco still ongoing. Why, Luongo wouldn’t even wish never-ending purgatory on a domestic worker:
—Strombone (@strombone1) June 9, 2013
Gillis’s recently-reported interview with John Tortorella does little to inspire confidence, either, although we would welcome Torts to Vancouver, because we run a comedy blog, and we run it from the safety of our homes, for the most part.
But in this case, if Gillis’s patience nets him John Stevens or Dan Bylsma, I don’t think he, or anybody else, will mind him taking his time.Tags: Coach Hunt 2013, Mike Gillis