The Seattle Kraken have found their man. On Thursday, the NHL’s newest franchise announced that they have hired Dave Hakstol as the first head coach in franchise history.
“It is certainly is a job that interested a lot of candidates,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said in a press release. “… Dave has a strong understanding of the technical aspect of the game-how he wants his team to play in all three zones [on the ice]. He’s up for the challenge.”
Francis looked to hire someone with previous NHL head coaching experience and Hakstol certainly fits the bill.
“Experience is valuable. The first time around when I was in this spot, I had a great deal of experience working with really good, dedicated players and great coaches,” Hakstol said during his introductory press conference on Thursday. “But I hadn’t had the experience of working at the NHL level. There’s a different rhythm to the NHL level in almost every realm from the 82-game schedule to the pace of the daily business to on-ice and the pace of the game.”
Hakstol previously served as the Philadelphia Flyers head coach from 2015 to 2018. During his time in Philadelphia, Hakstol accumulated a 134-101-42 record while reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of his three full seasons with the team. He was relieved of his duties with the Flyers in December 2018 following a 12-15-4 start to the 2018-19 season.
Now Hakstol will be getting a second chance at being an NHL head coach. It’s an opportunity that he’s looking forward to.
“I view it as a once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of something that we can build from the ground up,” Hakstol added. “Detail and communication are going to be very important over the next few weeks of building the roster and preparing for training camp and minutes-to-minute details that will be needed for a group of guys that have never played together before. It’s a very exciting challenge.”
Over the past two seasons, Hakstol served as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sheldon Keefe’s staff. Hakstol was originally hired by Mike Babcock before the former Maple Leafs head coach was relieved of his duties in November 2019. Hakstol remained on Toronto’s staff despite Babcock’s dismissal.
Prior to his time in the NHL, Hakstol served as the head coach at the University of North Dakota, where he led the Fighting Hawks to a record of 289-143-43 in 11 seasons. North Dakota to a national title during the 2010-11 campaign with Hakstol at the helm.