Hakstol ready to take second NHL chance with the Kraken

Dave Hakstol will have one thing in common with the players he will lead at the Seattle Kraken next season. Ignored by other teams, he will have the opportunity to make a fresh start with an expansion team and prove that he can be successful in the NHL.

« I consider it a unique chance to be part of an organization that you have to build from scratch, » said Hakstol Thursday, installed in a conference room of a hotel with a view of the Puget. Sound.

Let’s be frank: Hakstol’s name wasn’t what people thought they heard when the Kraken made the long-awaited announcement. It may sound unfair, but there was general agreement that he would not have been the first or at least the best choice of the organization.

Gerard Gallant, who led the Vegas Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Final in their debut campaign in 2017-18, was hired by the New York Rangers on June 16.

Rod Brind’Amour, coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, the former team of Kraken general manager Ron Francis, agreed to a three-year contract extension with the Hurricanes and he won the Jack-Adams Trophy awarded to the NHL Coach of the Year on June 17.

Francis claimed that there were nearly 100 names on the Kraken’s initial list and that he interviewed eight candidates, some on multiple occasions.

Among all the candidates still available, such as former Rangers coach David Quinn and former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, he set his sights on Hakstol, who kept a 134-101-42 record. in just over three seasons behind the Philadelphia Flyers bench from 2015 to 2018 and who served as an assistant coach for the past two years with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

However, that doesn’t mean Hakstol isn’t the right choice for Seattle. Only the future will tell us.

Francis explained that the Kraken were looking for someone who had NHL experience, good hockey sense and communication skills. He also wanted someone who cared about his players so that they could reach their full potential.

“The candidate we hired meets all of these criteria,” said Francis.

Whatever you think of Hakstol’s time with the Flyers, he still made the Stanley Cup playoffs two out of three years before being fired after 31 games in his fourth campaign. In fact, many coaches have had much more success on their second chance in the NHL.

Perhaps the best example is Peter DeBoer, who entered the NHL straight from Kitchener in the Ontario Hockey League, much like Hakstol who came from the University of North Dakota to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association when he joined the Flyers.

DeBoer was 103-107-36 from 2008-2011 with the Florida Panthers and has never made the playoffs. On Thursday, he revealed he was a better coach when he got his second NHL shot with the New Jersey Devils in 2011-12. He was then 48-28-6 and reached the Stanley Cup final. He went on to enjoy great success with the San Jose Sharks and the Golden Knights.

“I got to know Dave a bit from his first stint in the league,” said DeBoer. He’s a teacher. He has a background in teaching. He’s pragmatic, so I’d be surprised if he wasn’t successful. « 

Francis added that the Kraken and Hakstol looked back on his time in Philadelphia and what he had remembered. He mentioned that Hakstol learned a lot from Mike Babcock and Sheldon Keefe in Toronto.

“He has experience,” continued Francis. Maybe on his first stint the gap was too big with college level, but he’s been in the league for six years now. He’s worked under different coaches and he’s gained experience, so we don’t have to worry about that. I have always trusted his hockey sense. I like his way of getting his message across and I know he cares about his players.

“We have the impression that he is ready for this second chance. « 

Hakstol lingered for a long time on his time in Philadelphia, as the Flyers looked to rejuvenate their lineup. It was his conclusions that carried the most weight.

“I conclude that you can never spend too much time and effort on the details and the basics. So when you are going through a difficult period, you can always fall back on these elements, ”explained Hakstol.

This is precisely the job that awaits him in Seattle: laying the foundations for a new franchise.

The Kraken can build their roster in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21. Hakstol will have on hand an amalgam of players rejected by their organizations and he will have to make a team of them. Additionally, the performance of the Kraken will constantly be benchmarked against the success of the Golden Knights. There will surely be changes and difficult times along the way.

“Details and communication will be extremely important and not just over the next few weeks as we build our training. We will have to plan how this set is organized, said Hakstol. There will be training camp, where we will have to manage all the details that come up every day, every hour and every minute. These are the details at training camp that will allow us to create a team with players who have never played together before.

“It’s an exciting challenge and a very exciting opportunity. « 

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