The new minor-league San Diego Gulls will be led by a recent NHL coach, the Ducks announced Friday with the hiring of former Edmonton Oilers Coach Dallas Eakins.
Eakins, 48, a former defenseman who spent parts of nine NHL seasons with eight franchises, was fired amid organizational disarray in Edmonton after a 7-19-5 start last season. In his debut 2013-14 season, Eakins directed the Oilers to a 29-44-9 finish.
The Oilers won the NHL draft lottery and are expected to select phenom Connor McDavid with the first pick Friday.
In San Diego, Eakins will return to the American Hockey League in a market excited by premier minor-league hockey. Previously, the Ducks' top affiliate was in Norfolk, Va.
Eakins has achieved success in the AHL. He capped a four-season stint as head of the Toronto Marlies with a 87-47-18 mark in his final two seasons, leading the team to the AHL finals in 2011-12.
Meanwhile, Ducks General Manager Bob Murray is scheduled to interview former Ottawa Senators Coach Paul MacLean on Monday for Anaheim's open assistant coach position created by the end-of-season firing of Brad Lauer.
MacLean won the Jack Adams Award given to the NHL coach of the year after leading Ottawa to a 25-17-6 record in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.
He was fired last season after the Senators started 11-11-5.
If MacLean is hired, it will give the Ducks two former NHL head coaches, including Trent Yawney, on the bench with Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, with Eakins in the top minor-league position.
Murray spent extra time evaluating Boudreau following a season in which the Ducks took the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
An official familiar with Murray's thinking but unauthorized to comment publicly on the coaching strategy said the pursuit of Eakins and MacLean is based on "hiring the best people," more so than applying pressure on Boudreau.