Hakstol to Steer Kraken’s Ship

What does Dave Hakstol Bring to the Team?

Hakstol to Steer Kraken’s Ship

What’s Happening: The Seattle Kraken have their man. In a bit of a surprise move, GM Ron Francis announced that Dave Haskstol will steer the expansion team’s ship into their inaugural season. Building from the top down, management’s vision of the still playerless team is taking shape. The question is: who do they have in their head coach?

Who is Dave Hakstol? When introducing Hakstol, Ron Francis emphasized wanting someone with NHL coaching experience, good hockey acumen, and who genuinely cares about his players. “The guy we hired checked all those boxes,” Francis said. 

Hakstol spent the last two seasons as an assistant in Toronto and was the head coach of the Flyers for three and a half seasons from 2015-2018, making several playoff appearances, but failing to get out of the first round. 

NHL experience: Check. 

Francis also emphasized the coach of an expansion team must excel at working with, developing, and helping young players grow. Hakstol fits here as well. He spent 11 years as head coach at the University of North Dakota - a powerhouse program - and became the first NCAA coach to jump to the NHL in 33 years when he joined the Flyers. At UND, he helped develop future stars like T.J. Oshie and Jonathan Toews.   

Among others, he’ll get to work with the #2 overall pick in this year’s draft as well.

What He Brings to Seattle: Given what expansion teams are usually like (noting the Vegas exception), maybe we should have considered Hakstol all along. 

Coaching mainstays were available - John Tortorella, Claude Julien, and Gerard Gallant, among others - and Seattle over-looked them all. 

Sure, Hakstol’s NHL success isn’t what he may want it to be, but many coaches find success in their second stint. And while Seattle won’t say they’re not trying to win, establishing the cultural foundation for the future of the franchise surely is of utmost importance. 

“When I look at good teams, you always start with character,” Hakstol said. “I’m a guy that believes work ethic is part of that ability piece. Work ethic is a skill.” Those are good thoughts heading up an expansion team which is likely to be skill-light. Then again, after what Vegas did, who really knows. Choosing Hakstol was a surprise, and maybe the Kraken have a few more in store. 

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