Dave Hakstol on becoming Seattle Kraken’s first head coach, “a dream come true”

The expansion Seattle Kraken named Dave Hakstol as the franchise’s first head coach on Thursday.

Hakstol said he met with general manager Ron Francis last summer and called the job “a dream come true.”

“It’s about building with quality people, building it the right way,” Hakstol said at his introductory press conference Thursday.

Francis said he put together a long list of candidates in 2020 and talked to Hakstol multiple times.

Dave Hakstol first coach of the Seattle Kraken

Hakstol, 52, compiled a 134-101-42 record in four seasons as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers (2015-19), losing in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2015-16 and 2017-18.

He was fired on Dec. 17, 2018, 31 games into the 2018-19 season, and spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

who is Dave Hakstol Kraken
Dave Hakstol at his Kraken presser (Seattle Kraken)

“It is an honor to be the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken,” Hakstol said. “I am honored to be joining this tremendous group of staff and fans. When I first saw the arena, I was blown away — it is such a unique venue. I am looking forward to being a part of the group that builds a team that plays with pride, passion and selflessness for the city of Seattle.”

Hakstol, who is keenly involved in conversations with Francis about roster construction, described his experience with the Flyers as “phenomenal” and more recently said the perspective gained with the players as an assistant coach was a “great learning opportunity” in Toronto.

“You take a piece from every experience that you go through, have an opportunity to work with,” Hakstol said. “You learn a little bit. I believe we’re all pretty motivated to keep pushing the envelope and help our players be their very best, help them succeed.”

Kraken ready for next steps as 32nd NHL franchise

The Kraken enter the NHL as the league’s 32nd team in 2021-22. The NHL Expansion Draft is scheduled for July 21, and Seattle also has the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft on July 23.

“I am incredibly proud to announce Dave Hakstol as the first head coach of the Seattle Kraken franchise,” Francis said. “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.”

Hakstol, an Alberta native, spent 11 seasons as the coach at the University of North Dakota before joining the Flyers. He posted a 289-143-43 record and reached the NCAA Frozen Four seven times.

“I look at it as a great opportunity and there is no question that it is a second opportunity or a second chance,” Hakstol said. “I know the value of that. The biggest thing for where my head and focus is at is just to pay attention to what’s happening here in Seattle. The chance to be part of this from the ground up is a phenomenal opportunity. There is a ton of work to be done, but the opportunity is immense.”

The Athletic

–Field Level Media