But rather than moan and groan, Marlie head coach Dallas Eakins responded with class, staying on the high road the entire time. He later tweeted that the AHL is a developmental league; that everyone makes mistakes. So, he said, let’s “move on”.
It struck me as a gracious response and quite genuine, too. This is particularly noteworthy in a sporting world that loves to ascribe blame (we all do it as fans, too). Players too often do it. Coaches and General Manager’s often do it, as well. Rather than be truly accountable or accept responsibility, the easy thing is to blame someone else- including the officials.
In fairness, I thought, for what it’s worth, that Norfolk was the better team as that game went on. Ben Scrivens saved the Marlies’ bacon, for sure. That doesn’t take away the bad call, but perhaps provides a bit of non-emotional context. The Admirals have been the better team so far in the first three games and deserve to lead the series. Still, it was a very bad break for the Marlies.
Yet Eakins represented the Leafs very well on this one, and his stance perfectly reflected the “no complaints, no excuses” philosophy that is supposed to be at the core of Maple Leaf organizational values (though some of us question whether the big team always practices what it preaches along those lines, since there have been an awful lot of public excuses these past couple of seasons).
But my point is this: Eakins has been all class in his time in Toronto, including throughout this latest episode that went against his team. He has also—quite properly—received significant credit from fans, media, the Leaf brass and NHL folks alike for his performance in harnessing the skills of a very young Marlies squad, especially this past season. He has led them to the Calder Cup finals and they have been very deserving of their success. They may not win the championship, but they are clearly one of the best-coached squads in the second-best league in the hockey world.
This all got me thinking…while there’s nothing that can be done about it now, if you could go back in time and decide who the next coach of the Leafs would be, who would you choose? Would it be Burke’s choice, Carlyle, who won a Cup with Burke in Anaheim? Would it be Eakins, who has guided the Marlies to such promising results—while also developing an even better player pipeline than we might otherwise have here in Toronto?
Or would you choose none of the above—and go with someone outside the organization?
We all remember the “reasons” Burke gave for not promoting Eakins when Ron Wilson was fired late in the season. Were you supportive of his rationale at the time? Has Eakins' worthiness changed at all in your mind?
The fact that the roster will be re-shaped somewhat (a lot?) this summer may shift the equation somewhat, when it comes to who the “right” guy might be. But who’s the coach you have in mind now for this team?
I always appreciate the informed views that are posted here, so send your thoughts along. Who’s the guy you wish would be behind the Leaf bench, to lead this particular team in 2012-’13- and beyond?