For the longest time he was talked of as the future coach of the Maple Leafs.
So what else would cross the mind of Dallas Eakins on Saturday when he glances at Randy Carlyle from the Oilers’ bench, surrounded by many of the players Eakins developed with the Marlies?
“I’m not pretending it won’t be a significant event for me,” Eakins said earlier this week. “That was eight years of my life in Toronto (assistant Leaf coach, briefly player development director and highly regarded headmaster of the farm team). That was my home.”
But not to be his first big-time destination. Success was on Eakins’ side, but timing was not, back in March of 2012 when Ron Wilson’s firing created the unexpected opening for his dream job. Brian Burke had hired Eakins as Marlie coach three years earlier, entrusting him with the first rudimentary implements for a new-look farm operation that could finally sustain the draft-poor parent team in times of need.