San Diego Gulls Head Coach Excited About New Affiliation
San Diego hasn't had a hockey team in 10 years...why their return is big news!
Dallas Eakins, defensive lineman in 1998 for Toronto Maple Leafs
At last, San Diego can once again call itself home to hockey! Many of us grew up watching our San Diego Gulls in their white, orange and blue uniforms playing in the Sports Arena, watching great players like Len Ronson and Willie O’Ree.
Today, after almost an almost ten–year absence, the Gulls are back!
Gulls are in a new division of the American Hockey League (AHL) and are the direct affiliate to the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. Recently, the Gulls announced the hiring of Dallas Eakins as their Head Coach. Coach Eakins brings 30 years of professional experience as a player and coach to this inaugural season.
We were able to catch Coach Eakins on his way to Anaheim to work on his new team with a few of our most pressing questions:
Fine Magazine: Coach Eakins, you’ve just recently arrived in San Diego, how do you like it here so far and have you been able to get out and see any of it yet?
Coach Eakins: My family and I are very excited about our move to San Diego. We are a family who embraces the outdoors and fitness. We have been exploring the beaches and new cycling and running routes. Obviously, the weather here promotes our way of life.
FM: How old were you when you strapped on your first a pair of skates and took to the ice and then picked up a hockey stick?
Coach Eakins: I have lived 2 lives. I was born in Dade City, Florida. It was hot and very rural. Zero hockey. Our family then picked up and moved to Canada when I was just getting ready to turn 8 years old. That was the first time I ever skated and picked up and played with a hockey stick. I still remember arriving in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada and seeing the kids playing road hockey on the streets.
FM: San Diego has been without a hockey team for about 10 years and has never had a team that’s a direct affiliate to an NHL team as the Gulls are now. How different will the caliber of hockey be from what San Diego has experienced in the past?
Coach Eakins: A full generation of hockey players have turned over since there was hockey here in San Diego. The American Hockey League is the second best hockey league on the planet. The players continue to push the boundaries with their skill, size and speed. The sports fans of San Diego should expect a much faster and more skilled game than they have ever experienced before. The fans will also experience our club at the forefront of leadership within our community. Community service, character and leadership are equally important as skill, size and speed.
FM: As this is a new division in the American Hockey League (AHL) hosting a 68 game schedule, with players moving between the Ducks and the Gulls at any given time, how does that add to the challenge of coaching and planning ahead on line assignments?
You have to be quick on your feet and always have a plan moving forward. Change is a reality in the American Hockey League and it is something that we embrace. We are never caught off guard or frustrated by the many moving parts. It is always an exciting time when a player is promoted and that promotion opens the door for another player to solidify his rank within our team.
The puck drops on October 10th for the Gulls’ home opener at the Valley View Casino Center with 34 home games continuing through April for the 2015–16 Inaugural Season and into May with the playoffs. Don’t get shutout— order your tickets today at sandiegogulls.com and stay in the loop by following their social media profiles.