Eakins an all-star again

Dallas Eakins is returning to the AHL All-Star Classic.

The Toronto Marlies’ head coach has earned one of the two Western Conference coaching berths for the 2013 Dunkin’ Donuts AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held January 27-28 in Providence, R.I.

Eakins has earned the trip to Providence because the Marlies are guaranteed to have the best record in the West at the pre-determined deadline, the end of play on Dec. 31. Toronto has completed the 2012 portion of its schedule with a record of 19-9-1-2, good for a .661 points percentage and a conference-leading 41 points entering Sunday’s action.

It will be the second consecutive All-Star appearance for Eakins, who joined Oklahoma City’s Todd Nelson at last year’s event in Atlantic City.

Eakins, 45, has compiled a record of 133-113-21 in his four seasons as Marlies head coach, and led the team to the Western Conference championship and a berth in the Calder Cup Finals in 2012. Eakins has spent the last eight seasons in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in various roles: He was the club’s director of player development in 2008-09, served as an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs from 2006 to 2008, and was an assistant coach with the Marlies during the 2005-06 AHL season.

The Dade City, Fla., native and former defenseman suited up in 609 AHL games during his playing career, winning a Calder Cup with Chicago in 2002.

The first Eastern Conference coaching berth is down to a two-team race between Binghamton’s Luke Richardson (.696) and Syracuse’s Jon Cooper (.694), and will come down to both teams’ games on Monday evening. The Senators host St. John’s, while the Crunch are visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

One additional head coach from each conference will be selected by the American Hockey League to join the two coaching staffs for the event.