“You can bring sandpaper and be a skilled player at the same time,” Eakins told the Edmonton Sun.
Eakins argues that getting in on the forecheck goes hand-in-hand with competing hard. Not every player will have the same level of grit, but he feels they can be pushed in that direction.
“Some guys are just built where they’re very friendly and they’re very friendly on the ice,” Eakins said. “But we’re not looking for son-in-laws here, we’re looking for guys to win hockey games.”
The Oilers certainly could stand to be a more physical team, but that’s not the only thing Eakins is preaching. In the same vein, he’s also plans to hold players accountable and that’s something that seems to have been made abundantly clear to his players.
Forward Ryan Jones, 29, thinks the level of accountability that Eakins is looking for is something the team didn’t have in recent years and so far it sounds like players are welcoming the change with open arms. At least in this early stage.
This will be the Oilers’ fifth coach in six seasons. Whether or not Eakins lasts longer than his predecessors will be based on the Oilers’ execution rather than September quotes.