The Seattle Kraken announced on Thursday afternoon that Dave Hakstol has been named the first head coach in franchise history.
“It is certainly is a job that interested a lot of candidates,” said GM Ron Francis during an exclusive interview Wednesday. “There is a lot to like about the job with our ownership group setting the franchise for success. Dave is a hard-working guy. I liked his confidence during the interview process.”
“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.”
In 277 career NHL games behind the bench, all with the Philadelphia Flyers, the 52-year-old is 134-101-42 (.543 points percentage). He led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice (2016, 2018), where they lost in six games of the first round in both instances.
The Flyers fired Hakstol on December 17, 2018, after the team started the 2018-19 season 12-15-4 despite the team making the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of his three-plus seasons behind the bench.
The Kraken will debut as the NHL’s 32nd franchise in the 2021-22 season in the Pacific Division.
“It’s really exciting for me and my family,” said Hakstol in a statement Wednesday after arriving in town with his wife, Erinn, and son, Brenden, while daughter, Avery, didn’t make this trip. “I have paid attention to what’s happening here, how the organization is coming together with Tod [Leiweke] and Ron. What ownership has been able to do is nothing short of spectacular.”
The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft will take place on Wednesday, July 21. The 30 teams participating must submit their protection lists by Saturday, July 17. The Kraken have to select one player from each team.
During his time with the Flyers, the team averaged 2.76 goals-per-game (18th in the NHL) and 2.86 goals-against per game (tied for 14th). They also posted a 19% power-play efficiency (tied for 19th) and a 78.2% penalty-killing rate (29th).
As head coach at the University of North Dakota, Hakstol took his alma mater NCAA Division-1 team to the Frozen Four in his first year and seven times total in 11 seasons, finishing with a 289-143-43 record. During his UND playing days, he captained the squad for two seasons.
“When you look at Dave’s record, you see a life devoted to the game of hockey,” said Tod Leiweke, Kraken CEO, during an exclusive. “He had to remake the entire roster in his first coaching job with that USHL roster.
“He kept doing it at his alma mater. It’s legendary, the levels he won at North Dakota. On closer examination of his record in Philadelphia, it’s clear he was holding a transitional team that held its own during the process, making the playoffs twice in three seasons.”
“It’s Ron’s decision,” he said. “He has our full support and ownership knows he did the due diligence. Dave’s team is going be resilient and play physical and play fast.
The Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres are currently the only teams without a head coach for next season. Though, the Canadiens will likely take the interim tag off of Dominque Ducharme, Julien’s successor, after coming at least one win away from the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Babcock, John Tortorella, and Rick Tocchet highlight some of the best coaches available.
By Harrison Brown