The NHL’s newest team officially has their guy.
In a move two years in the making, the Seattle Kraken announced on Thursday morning that they have hired Dave Hakstol as the first head coach in franchise history.
The hockey world, naturally, was stunned.
The decision to ultimately go with Hakstol concludes a long and exhaustive search for the first Kraken head coach by Kraken general manager, Ron Francis that spanned months and reportedly featured candidates such as Rick Tocchet, David Quinn, Joe Sacco, and Tony Granato, among others, making their way through the interview process.
After earning a third interview this past week, it was believed by many that Tocchet was the front runner to earn this position. Couple that piece of info with the bigger names such as Bruce Boudreau, Claude Julien, and, before he signed with the Rangers on June 14th, Gerard Gallant sitting ripe for the picking, and going with Hakstol is undoubtedly a bold choice.
The Kraken, however, seems overwhelmingly confident in what he brings.
This is not Hakstol’s first spin behind an NHL bench. The former Leafs assistant served as Flyers head coach from 2015-2018, compiling a 134-101-42 record over three seasons in Philadelphia before ultimately being let go. Prior to entering the City of Brotherly Love, Hakstol made a name for himself by coaching the North Dakota Fighting Sioux into an NCAA powerhouse, leading the program to the Frozen Four in seven of his 11 seasons at the helm, including his first.
As an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs from 2019-20 to 2020-21, Hakstol’s duties reportedly were to oversee the defense and penalty kill, the former of which made marked improvements from Year One to Year Two. The penalty kill, however, never managed to produce any consistent results under Hakstol’s guidance, failing to ever eclipse the league-average success rate and finishing a disappointing 23rd overall in 2021.
While there will certainly be a long discussion as to whether Hakstol was ultimately the right choice, Kraken fans have something to be excited about as their inaugural season approaches.