Seattle Kraken hire Dave Hakstol as first head coach

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The Seattle Kraken have hired Maple Leaf's assistant Dave Hakstol as the first head coach in franchise history.

"I am incredibly proud to announce Dave Hakstol as the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken franchise," Kraken general manager Ron Francis said in a statement. "Dave possesses great experience, a strong work ethic, a solid technical understanding of the game and the remarkable ability to communicate clearly and effectively. I look forward to working with Dave as we strive to build a team our fans will be proud of."

Francis started with as many as 100 names and interviewed eight candidates before deciding to hire Hakstol.

"We wanted someone who had experience, had been a head coach in the NHL before," Francis said. "There are so many things, learning the players, learning the teams, learning the systems, and quite frankly, the pace of the NHL is unlike anything else, so we wanted someone who had been through that experience.

"We wanted someone who had good hockey acumen, who understood systems and how to play all three zones and if we had to tweak things, we could do that along the way. We wanted somebody who could communicate the message very clearly and very concisely to our players and the last thing is, we wanted to find an individual who we genuinely felt cared about players and wanted them to reach their potential. When we went through the interview process, the guy we're hiring checked all those boxes continually."

Hakstol, 52, is an NHL coaching veteran who served as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers from 2015-18 and posted a 134-101-42 record. He led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in two of his three full seasons in Philadelphia but was eliminated in the first round both times.

"Experience is valuable. The first time around when I was in this spot, I had a great deal of experience working with really good, dedicated players and great coaches," Hakstol said during his introductory press conference. "But I hadn't had the experience of working at the NHL level. There's a different rhythm to the NHL level in almost every realm from the 82-game schedule to the pace of the daily business to on-ice and the pace of the game."

Hakstol was an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs the previous two seasons on Sheldon Keefe's staff before accepting a second chance at being an NHL head coach. Seattle will hold their expansion draft on July 21 and begin the 2021-22 season as the NHL's 32nd expansion franchise.

"Detail, communication is going to be very, very important, not only over the phase of the next few weeks of building the roster but from there, it's planning on how everything fits together," Hakstol said. "It's planning for training camp, it's preparation for the detail of not just day-to-day but minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour details that are needed in training camp to bring a group of guys together who hadn't played together before. So it's a very exciting challenge, a very exciting opportunity."