Oilers' Eakins on Dellow: 'How can he not be highly critical of our team? We're in 28th place'

Jerome Miron / Reuters

Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins continues to defend the hiring of hockey operations consultant Tyler Dellow.

Eakins, who first discussed the move on Edmonton radio last week, spoke to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail in an article published Wednesday.

The head coach said he appreciates Dellow's strong opinions and considers them valuable:

I think the criticism of Tyler has been his ability to challenge people forcefully in a conversation and defend what he believes in. But I’ve got no problem with that. I like that he’s got a goddamn opinion. That’s what you need when you’re in these meetings.

Eakins isn't bothered by Dellow's criticism of the team over the years. The head coach says it's often warranted:

I heard through the grapevine [during the year] he was being highly critical of our team. That didn’t bother me. I’m like, ‘How can he not be highly critical of our team? We’re in 28th place.’ So of course he was.

The Oilers announced the hiring of the analytics advocate last Tuesday. The move came two weeks after the Toronto Maple Leafs shook up their front office and hired statistics proponent Kyle Dubas as assistant general manager.

Eakins sees the way the tide is turning. 

"I just thought it was time to get on with it," the head coach said. "I really believe that, over the next year or two, you’re going to see 30 teams with somebody doing analytics."

He also admits he doesn't know everything:

A coach’s job is not to sit there and say, ‘I already know it all. I don’t need anybody else’s opinion.’ I want to hear everybody’s opinion. Then it’s my job to make that final decision. I’ll listen to [new assistant coaches] Craig Ramsay and Keith Acton and Rocky Thompson and Craig MacTavish. And we’re going to listen to Tyler Dellow, too. He’s going to have a voice in our room on certain matters.

Oilers' Eakins on Dellow: 'How can he not be highly critical of our team? We're in 28th place'
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