The Anaheim Ducks began their first training camp under coach Dallas Eakins Friday with three practices at Great Park Ice in Irvine, starting their quest to rebound from their first non-playoff season since 2011-12.
“The one thing that I’ve grasped just in the short amount of time I’ve been around him is he’s all business,” defenseman Cam Fowler said.
“He expects to win but we’re going to have a good time doing it. You can kind of see that by the way he ran practice. There was no messing around out there. We went from drill to drill and when we had a tough skate at the end he tried to make it a little fun for us.
One difference under Eakins was playing music during conditioning sessions.
Fowler described Eakins as “kind of a new-age coach.”
“That’s the way the game’s evolving,” Fowler said. “He’s a players’ coach from what I’ve heard. He’s all about communication, which is great. That will end up helping us in the long run.”
General manager Bob Murray announced that forwards Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will not play during the 2019-20 season.
Kesler underwent successful right hip resurfacing surgery on May 9. Murray said it was “very doubtful” Kesler would play again.
Injuries limited Eaves to nine games over the past two seasons.
Eakins coached the Ducks American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego the past four seasons. The Ducks 60-player training camp roster includes 23 players who played for Eakins and the Gulls last season.
Eakins replaces Randy Carlyle, who was fired on Feb. 10 when the Ducks were mired in a seven-game losing streak and tied for last in the NHL’s Pacific Division with a 21-26-9 record. Murray served as interim coach the remainder of the season.
The Ducks were 35-37-10 in the 2018-19 season, finishing sixth in the eight-team division.
This is Eakins’ second opportunity as an NHL coach. He coached the Edmonton Oilers to a 36-63-14 record from the start of the 2013-14 season until being fired 31 games into the 2014-15 season after Edmonton got off to a 7-19-5 start.
Eakins coached the Gulls to a 154-95-23 record the past four seasons, the best record in the AHL’s Pacific Division since its inception in 2015.
The Ducks will begin preseason play Tuesday at San Jose. Their first preseason game at Honda Center will be Sept. 24, also against San Jose. The Ducks will open the regular season Oct. 3 by playing host to the Arizona Coyotes at Honda Center.
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