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Why Dave Hakstol Was Hired as First Coach of the Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken have hired Dave Haskstol as their first-ever head coach. How did GM Ron Francis land on this decision?

The Seattle Kraken announced the hiring of their first-ever franchise head coach on Thursday. After an extensive search, they have landed on Dave Hakstol, former assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Needless to say, while it’s not necessarily and poor choice, it’s come as a bit of a shocking twist considering some of the names Seattle could have gone with instead.

Reports early on Thursday morning were that the Kraken were expected to name their first coach. It was learned early in the day that it was not Rick Tocchet, who was a favorite early on in the coaching search. In the end, the Kraken went with the Toronto Maple Leafs assistant. As reported by Pierre LeBrun, Kraken GM Ron Francis says he interviewed 8 coaching candidates, several of them multiple times, before hiring Hakstol. Meanwhile, Hakstol says he will look to fill out his coaching staff ASAP.

Ryan Clark of The Athletic writes:

Hakstol was one of those people Francis met and closely observed. Francis was part of the management group for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championship. As was Jason Botterill, the former Buffalo Sabres GM who is now an assistant GM with the Kraken. Hakstol was an assistant on a team that took silver. Yet the time they spent together was only part of the appeal.

Experience A Must For the Kraken

For the Kraken, it was about getting someone with experience. Hakstol coached the Philadelphia Flyers for three-plus seasons from 2015 to 2018. His run started with 41-win campaign that ended with a first-round playoff exit, he missed the playoffs in his second season, and his third season saw the team pick up 42 wins, and again leave in the first round. He was relieved of his duties 31 games into his fourth season (December 2018) when the went on a four-game losing streak.

Six months later, Hakstol was hired as an assistant coach in Toronto, worked with Mike Babcock but and then was retained by Sheldon Keefe after Babcock was fired. Hakstol’s job was to oversee the Leafs’ defense and penalty kill and he’s been given a lot of credit for improving the two-way games of some incredibly gifted offensive players who often viewed defense as an afterthought.

He has a reputation for developing talent, and that will be key for the Kraken who will be drafting the No. 2 pick during next month’s NHL Draft. Craig Button wrote, “To everybody surprised by the hiring of Dave Hakstol by the @SeattleKraken , don’t be. Dave has been a very successful head coach with @UNDmhockey & a winning record in the @NHL. I guess his name wasn’t on the marquee so now people are surprised! Dave is quality.”

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