On Thursday, the Seattle Kraken appointed Dave Hakstol as head coach for the expansion franchise. Play will start this fall.
Seattle will be Hakstol’s second NHL head coaching position. From 2015-19, he coached the Philadelphia Flyers for more than three seasons. He also spent the last two years as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Ron Francis, Seattle’s general manager, surprised everyone by hiring Hakstol. This was after a lengthy process that began with an initial interview in 2020. Francis stated that eight candidates had been interviewed, but Hakstol was not mentioned in the interview.
Francis stated, “On our side we just had the discussions, we discussed things and I think that a lot goes to Dave.” “He didn’t talk to anyone about it and it doesn’t get out.”
Hakstol, 52 years old, coached the Flyers in two playoff appearances. Both ended with first round losses. He was then fired halfway through his fourth season. He was a coach at the University of North Dakota for eleven years. Six years ago, he was an off-the board hire for Ron Hextall (Philadelphia), just like he is now for Francis.
Hakstol stated, “It is an honor to be part of this incredible group.” “I was stunned when I saw the arena for the first time. It’s a truly unique venue. I look forward to being part of the team that creates a team that is passionate, selfless and proud of Seattle.
The Kraken is expected to succeed from the beginning. They will join the Pacific Division, with the Arizona Coyotes moving to the Central.
Hakstol will have a significant task. He must match the success of the league’s last expansion franchise. Vegas reached the Stanley Cup Final in the inaugural season. It has been to the playoffs every year since then.
Hakstol stated, “It’s about building with high quality people to start with, and building it the right manner.” “We need to ensure that we build a team that is able to come out of the gate with pride, passion, and achieve success. We also need to work towards building the organization’s depth for that long-term success.
Francis’ original timeline for hiring a coach in Seattle was well ahead of the July 21 expansion draft. The July 23 NHL draft saw Seattle’s search for a coach settled before June. 2. The overall selection.
Hakstol won the job over Rick Tocchet, former Arizona coach, and other candidates who had been interviewed several times. Francis, Hakstol, and Jason Botterill, Seattle assistant GM were with Canada’s team at this year’s world championship.
Francis stated, “We spent four weeks together over Austria and Slovakia and I got to get to know him as an individual and kind of observe his work ethic and operate and build that respect for what is possible.”
Although Hakstol was eventually offered the job, it is possible that he wasn’t the first choice.
Because of his previous experience in leading Vegas through its first record-setting season (which ended in a loss to Washington) Gerard Gallant was the obvious choice for Seattle. Gallant chose to join the New York Rangers rather than taking on another first-year franchise.
Training camp for the Kraken is expected to start in September, with the season likely beginning in mid-October.