Dave Hakstol named first head coach of the Seattle Kraken
Former UND coach will lead the expansion team.
During Dave Hakstol's 11-year tenure as UND's head hockey coach, he was perhaps best know for his ability to build teams.
He constructed them in purposeful ways, blending highly recruited top-end skill (one of his first commits as head coach was Jonathan Toews) with lightly recruited under-the-radar players brought aboard for specific roles (his last-remaining commit at UND is alternate captain Mark Senden).
He recruited specific types of people, too, knowing that hockey seasons are going to have rough patches, and you need to players who are going to dig in at those moments, not finger-point and blame others.
Hakstol's teams became renowned for peaking at the end of the season, winning four league playoff titles in his first seven years as coach and reaching the NCAA Frozen Four seven times in 11 years. When he left for the Philadelphia Flyers in 2015, he did so having won more college hockey games than any other program during his tenure.
Now, the Seattle Kraken are banking on him to do the same in building their expansion team.
Hakstol was introduced as the first coach in Seattle Kraken franchise history by the team's general manager, Ron Francis, on Thursday afternoon.
"I view it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Hakstol, who was joined by his wife, Erinn, and son, Brendan. "We have an opportunity to build from the ground up. Detail and communication is going to be very, very important, not only over the next few weeks of building the roster, but from there, it's planning on how everything fits together."
Now, Hakstol will get to work building Seattle's franchise.
The NHL Expansion Draft is set for July 21, 2021. That will give the Kraken their first roster. Two days later, the NHL Entry Draft will be conducted. Seattle has the No. 2 pick.
Those events will give Seattle its foundation. And while the team building process is different in the NHL than in college, his work at UND caught Seattle's eye.
"In 11 years there (at UND) as head coach, nine of those years he had a winning percentage over .600," Francis said. "The other two, he had a winning percentage over .700. And that's in an environment where your changing your team on a yearly basis, and definitely every four years as guys graduate and move on. So, that bodes well for sort-of building the base and being able to communicate."
Francis said the Kraken interviewed eight candidates. They first contacted Hakstol last summer.
Hakstol served as an assistant coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs the last two seasons. Prior to that, he served as the head coach of the Flyers for three-and-a-half years, leading Philadelphia to the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice.
"Tracking back to University of North Dakota days, Dave is a coach who cares about his players," Francis said. "At times, a coach's messages can get diluted. Players want to understand what the coach wants them to do. Dave communicates clearly and concisely. Players like that."