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Hockey

Ducks’ search for a coach moving into high gear

The Ducks’ coaching search has picked up steam as several names have surfaced to fill the last vacancy in the NHL.

In addition to Dallas Eakins, coach of their minor league affiliate San Diego Gulls, others in the mix are Dallas Stars assistant coach Todd Nelson and New York Islanders assistant coach Lane Lambert, the Los Angeles Times confirmed. Rick Bowness, another Dallas assistant, is also under consideration, according to Bob McKenzie of TSN.

Ducks general manager Bob Murray is expected to do interviews this week, but he is attending this week’s NHL scouting combine in Buffalo, N.Y. It is not known if Eakins will have a formal interview because Murray is already familiar with him, and Eakins was already seen as a strong candidate to replace the fired Randy Carlyle.

Eakins took the Gulls to the American Hockey League’s Western Conference final, where they were eliminated Monday. He has built a case for the Ducks’ head coaching position, having guided their prospects for four seasons and taken the Gulls to at least the second round of the playoffs in three of those years. Some of those prospects, such as Maxime Comtois, Sam Steel, Max Jones and Troy Terry, offered optimism in an awful Ducks season that led Murray to question the character of some players.

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Eakins has a successful minor league coaching history and, if hired, it would be his second NHL coaching opportunity. He went 36-63-14 in an 18-month run with the Edmonton Oilers that ended in his firing in 2014.

Nelson and Bowness helped Dallas reach the second round of the playoffs under first-year head coach Jim Montgomery. Nelson won the AHL’s Calder Cup with the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2017, and coached for five seasons in the Oilers organization, including 46 games as head coach in 2014-15.

Bowness has an NHL coaching resume that spans 35 years. He coached the Ottawa Senators and Islanders and has been an assistant with the then-Phoenix Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning before he joined Dallas. Bowness has been to the Stanley Cup Final twice, with the Canucks and Lightning.

Lambert has served as an assistant the last eight seasons, with the Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals before he followed coach Barry Trotz to the Islanders as an associate coach last season. He was on Washington’s 2018 Stanley Cup-winning staff.

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Ducks assistant coaches Mark Morrison and Marty Wilford remain employed with the team, an official said. But their status could change upon a new coaching hire. The Ducks are the last of seven NHL teams to hire new coaches.

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Kings assistant search

Trent Yawney is believed to be a candidate for the open Kings assistant coach position under newly hired Todd McLellan. Yawney was McLellan’s assistant for three seasons with the San Jose Sharks. He is known for mentoring defensemen and served in that capacity for the Ducks for four seasons. His contract was not renewed last April and he spent last season as an assistant with Edmonton.

Jay Woodcroft, a longtime assistant under McLellan, could also be considered. Woodcroft just completed his first season as coach of the Edmonton affiliate Bakersfield Condors.

curtis.zupke@latimes.com

Twitter: @curtiszupke


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