Dallas Eakins believes he was ready to be Ron Wilson's replacement.
After his Toronto Marlies dropped a 2-1 decision to the Rochester Americans on Saturday, Eakins made clear his disappointment at not getting the head coaching job with Maple Leafs.
“I'm not going to sit around and lie to the public and the media, put on a smiley face and say ‘Oh no, I'm not upset with it at all,“’ he said. “I'm absolutely disappointed. If I wasn't, (Leafs GM) Brian Burke should've kicked me out the door immediately.
“If I wasn't disappointed, Burke should've fired me, because if you're not disappointed, and you're OK with that, then that says you're OK with the status quo and that's it.”
Wilson was fired as the Leafs coach Friday and replaced by former Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle.
Despite his regret at getting passed over, however, there was a silver lining for Eakins.
“I think I can do the job, but I think Brian Burke and (Leafs VP of hockey operations) Dave Nonis made an excellent choice here,” Eakins said. “Randy Carlyle is a good friend of mine. I played with him, and he's somebody I look up to as a coach, somebody who's career I'd like to emulate.”
Eakins said he had no discussions with Leafs management until around the time Ron Wilson was fired, but added he didn't believe there needed to be any.
“I've been here long enough,” he said. “They know what I bring, and they know what I'm about. It wasn't like I needed a job interview.”
During the Leafs' press conference to announce the hiring of Carlyle, Burke said he didn't feel the situation was right for Eakins.
“Dallas Eakins is a hell of a coach,” Burke said. “He's done a marvellous job. But you look at the size of (the media) group — he's never coached a playoff game in the American Hockey League. We just thought this was like putting him in tank filled with piranhas and sharks, and he'd have no chance.”
For his part, Eakins said he understands and welcomes the pressure of coaching in the Toronto market.
“It's like I tell my players, ‘If you don't like this kind of pressure, and you don't like how you're being treated sometimes, or things seem too tough, then go do something else,“’ he said.
“There's a lot of wonderful jobs that you can go do where you're not in the spotlight, you're not under the gun. It's something we all accept, we deal with and in the end we wouldn't have it any other way.”
Earlier at Ricoh Coliseum, Paul Szczechura scored the winning goal on the power play midway through the third period on a rush through the Toronto defence to give Rochester the win over its division rival.
Evan Rankin had the other goal for the Americans and David Leggio made 21 saves for the win.
Greg Scott had the lone goal for the Marlies, while Scrivens stopped 31 shots in defeat.
Despite Eakins getting passed over by the Leafs, the Marlies are glad their coach will be around for what they hope is a long playoff run.
“On a selfish level, we're really happy he stayed,” said defenceman Jesse Blacker. “We were all rooting for him to get, and he deserves it. He's opening a lot of eyes with his coaching and we love him in here.
“It's just a matter of time before someone scoops him up.”
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