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Yakupov, Eakins and the Ovechkin Experiment

I'm starting to see some similarities between Dallas Eakins' experience with the Oilers and Dale Hunter's experience with the Capitals.

Here is an interesting article that deals with the comparison of Ovechkin under Hunter and then under Oates. Quite a few similarities in word choice from Ovechkin to Yakupov. It's almost like Yak might have read the article for inspiration before he had his media chat yesterday.

There is additional analysis here that seems to indicate that there isn't a significant statistical difference in team performance, but there does seem to be a difference in individual player performance.

I totally get what Eakins is trying to do here -- develop a team mentality towards defense rather than one focused on individual player success. It's a sound theory, but I feel like he has decided (with all his coaching experience) that there is only one path to NHL success and this is it, no exceptions.

I'm not much of a Caps fan, but as a casual observer, I recognize some of Hunter's coaching decisions in Eakins' style. Interesting that Hunter went back to the OHL to win the championship with the Knights (with a 77% win%). Perhaps he was fired from his NHL gig too soon. Perhaps his method, style and philosophy are more geared to an OHL/AHL game where defense is characteristically weak; where a team that plays any defensive style can do well. Perhaps that method, style and philosophy doesn't translate to the NHL success because there are fewer weaknesses to exploit.

I feel like Eakins is the kid who skipped a grade in elementary school -- he's smart, but now he's the youngest and smallest in his class. He's focusing on what he knows (discipline & fitness), but he doesn't know what he doesn't know and maybe he has a chip on his shoulder. The new teacher (MacT) asked the big kids in the class (Buchberger & Smith) to watch out for him, but they both scored in the 50th percentile in the standardized achievement tests and they're repeating the same grade, so they provide limited help. Eakins would have done well to stay in his grade, learn the material cold and maybe work as a tutor (assistant) under a solid teacher (coach) for a season or two.

There's a whole lot more to say on the topic, but I'll leave it at that.

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