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Coach Eakins: Don’t call Oilers ‘young’

Sep 10, 2013, 9:59 AM EDT

dallaseakinsgetty Getty Images

Dallas Eakins is the latest in a long line of head coaches that have walked through the Edmonton Oilers’ revolving doors in recent years. He’ll be the fifth bench boss this team has had in just six years after Ralph Krueger was fired following a mere 48-game stint.

This is a team that’s desperately trying to move away from rebuilding after missing the playoffs for seven straight seasons. With that in mind, Eakins wants people to start looking at the Oilers in a different way.

“I’ve asked the media here to stop referring to our team as a young team,” Eakins told the Toronto Star. “You do that and really you’re just talking about a few individuals and alienating a bunch of the other guys. Usually when people talk about a young team its means it’s OK to lose. Well, it’s not OK.

“We’re an NHL team with expectations.”

Of course, the core of this team is still relatively young, but not devoid of NHL experience. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are gearing up for their fourth campaign. Years of poor showings have allowed them to draft a great group of skilled forwards, but Eakins’ team still has plenty to prove when it comes to defense and toughness.

He’ll also have to deal with injuries early on as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is projected to miss the first month of the season. To that end, he’s asked Hall to practice taking faceoffs in the hope that he can at least temporarily shift from the left wing to center.

“If it doesn’t work, it won’t be Taylor’s fault,” Eakins said. “Maybe it’ll work or maybe the coach is just crazy.”

Either way, Eakins is “all in” and determined to end the cycle of losing.

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