Former Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol is getting a second chance as an NHL team’s bench boss, and it’s with the Seattle Kraken.
SEATTLE, WE GOT OUR GUY!— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) June 24, 2021
Dave Hakstol (@hakstol2), has been named the the first-ever head coach in #SeaKraken history!
Get to know our new bench boss → https://t.co/uiBhw09CfE pic.twitter.com/fe9p7Hry64
There were several names being thrown around as potential candidates to become Seattle’s first-ever head coach — Rick Tocchet, Bruce Boudreau and Tony Granato among them. But Hakstol earning the head coaching gig was not something many saw coming, especially due to his lack of success as head coach of the Flyers and, more recently, assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hakstol spent four seasons as the Flyers’ head coach, and his tenure actually got off to a fairly decent start. The Flyers’ first season under Hakstol was one of the more memorable campaigns in recent years, thanks mostly to the emergence of Shayne Gostisbehere as a rookie. They finished the year with a 41-27-14 record and advanced to the postseason, but were swiftly eliminated after being dominated by the Washington Capitals.
It was Hakstol’s second season in Philadelphia that began to cause concern. Not only did the Flyers fail to return to the postseason, but Hakstol continued his habit of relying heavily on bottom-of-the-lineup players like Dale Weise and Chris VandeVelde during crucial moments of important games. And despite Gostisbehere’s coming-out party just a year prior, Hakstol was keen on playing the aging Andrew MacDonald and ineffective Brandon Manning on a regular basis despite their glaring deficiencies.
The Flyers returned to the playoffs in 2017-18, but were once again quickly sent packing after being overmatched by another division rival — this time the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was clear the Flyers needed to make significant changes in order to stay competitive in the Metropolitan Division, but Hakstol was retained for his fourth — and final — season in Philadelphia.
The Flyers continued to underachieve under Hakstol in 2018-19. After going 12-15-4 through 31 games, the Flyers finally pulled the plug on him, but not before also firing former general manager Ron Hextall, who may or may not have refused to fire Hakstol during the Flyers’ darkest days.
Overall, Hakstol went 134-101-42 as head coach of the Flyers before joining the Maple Leafs as an assistant coach in 2019. The underachieving continued in Toronto upon Hakstol’s arrival as the Leafs were upset by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the qualifying round of the 2019-20 postseason.
And then, of course, Toronto was upset in the first round yet again this season by the Montreal Canadiens despite leading the series 3-1. Yikes.
Hakstol, despite seemingly having the respect of many of his peers across the NHL, has yet to accomplish anything of note as a professional head coach. This even held true during his days at the University of North Dakota, where he failed to win a national title despite guiding UND to the Frozen Four seven (!) times.
It’s been two years since Hakstol’s last attempt as an NHL head coach. Since then, it’s highly likely that he’s learned many lessons as a teacher and mentor. Perhaps the Kraken will provide Hakstol with the tools necessary to ice a competitive team for years to come. But the Seattle’s Hakstol will need to be a vastly different leader than Philadelphia’s Hakstol.