The Seattle Kraken coming east to visit the Philadelphia Flyers for the first time is exciting enough, just with them being the shiny new toy of the NHL, but it has another added aspect of importance for both clubs.
Kraken head coach Dave Hakstol is familiar enough with this city and franchise, after spending three and a half grueling and miserable seasons as the Flyers’ bench boss. Causing just about every fan of this team to have a daily reminder that they are stuck, immovable on a plateau of non-success. With zero playoff round victories to boast about during his tenure, there was hope that he would never be in the Wells Fargo Center again.
Well he’s here and causing misery for another fan base, so at least it’s not so terrible.
As the head coach of the Kraken, Hakstol is off to a strangely even 1-1-1 start — providing enough variety in flavors for Seattle fans to get a quick taste at what a season is like with him in charge.
But for his players, they can all tell what it means for their boss to be back in the town where he got his first NHL coaching job and was eventually fired mid-season.
“I’m sure it does [have extra meaning],” Kraken winger Jordan Eberle said on Monday. “He’s got a history here and I know he wants to win here. So we’re going to try to do everything we can to try and get him a win.”
It goes without saying that a hockey player wants to win games, but it’s that extra bit of spice and intensity to play for a coach that wants desperately to get the better of a team that sent him walking with his tail in between his legs. And for Hakstol himself, he certainly wants to get the win tonight more than the previous three games this season.
As Alain Vigneault said earlier today, thinking back on his first times back in an old coaching home when doing so for a new team: "That 1st time you play against your former team, anybody that tells you that it's not special, they're full of it." Could tell Hakstol was excited.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) October 18, 2021
Even for players that are still here, that had the cursed privilege of playing for Hakstol in Philadelphia, they aren’t aware of any similarities that he carried over to the Kraken from his miserable time with the Flyers.
“I wouldn’t expect to see the exact same style from when he was here,” Flyers winger Travis Konecny said. “He’s been in Toronto now and he’s now here, so he’s probably got some other things under his belt. I’m sure there will be some similarities we’ll see out there, but we haven’t really noticed all that much.”
It will all come to fruition on Monday once the puck drops at 7:00 p.m., whether or not Hakstol will get that desired two points over his former team.