Dave Hakstol has his next head coaching gig.
The former Flyers bench boss will be the first-ever head coach of the expansion Seattle Kraken, who announced the hire on Thursday.
Hakstol coached the Flyers for parts of four seasons before being fired in December 2018. The 52-year-old has coached the third-most games in franchise history (277), behind only Fred Shero (554) and Mike Keenan (320). In Philadelphia, Hakstol went 134-101-42 with a pair of first-round playoff exits.
"Our challenge there was really transitioning not just a roster, but really the depth of the organization, to a younger group that would be sustainable over time from within the organization and be able to create long-term success," Hakstol said Thursday at his introductory press conference in Seattle. "We had a lot of successes in the areas that we were working at in terms of the transition of younger players, not only into the National Hockey League roster, but also throughout the organization. We were able to maintain the opportunity to be a playoff team two out of the four years that I was there."
Over the last two NHL seasons, Hakstol was an assistant coach with the Maple Leafs.
Fresh out of the college ranks from North Dakota, Hakstol was hired by the Flyers in May 2015. He was regarded as a coach who could mold younger players given his success with the Fighting Hawks. His fate behind the Flyers' bench became heavily ominous when former general manager Ron Hextall was suddenly fired in late November of 2018.
After a disastrous road trip in December and with the Flyers (12-15-4) in last place of the Metropolitan Division, allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game (3.74), new general manager Chuck Fletcher relieved Hakstol of his duties.
With the Flyers, Hakstol was a detail-oriented, tireless worker, but he lacked in the NHL experience department. The Flyers struggled systematically at times, experienced slow starts and were prone to streakiness, both good and bad, under Hakstol. In each of his final two seasons, the Flyers were in last place of the Metropolitan Division at Thanksgiving.
Many can fairly argue the Flyers lacked in personnel during Hakstol's tenure, as well. Hakstol's best season came in 2017-18, his last full one with the Flyers. The club went 42-26-14 for 98 points before it was outclassed by the two-time defending champion Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.
That season, Hakstol moved Claude Giroux from center to left wing during training camp. The Flyers' captain went on to finish with a career resurgence of 102 points (34 goals, 68 assists). Not only did the move behoove Giroux, but it also allowed for Sean Couturier to play first-line center. Couturier ended up having his breakout season and finished second in the Selke Trophy voting.
"Dave Hakstol is one of the hardest-working people I know," Hextall, now GM of the Penguins, said in November 2018. "He's got a lot of respect around the league. You'd be shocked when I talk to my colleagues how much respect he has. He's a good coach."
Hakstol could soon be getting one of his former players in Seattle. The Flyers will lose a player to the Kraken in the July 21 NHL expansion draft.
"Dave is a hard-working guy," Seattle general manager Ron Francis said, via the Kraken’s official website. "I liked his confidence during the interview process.
"Dave has a strong understanding of the technical aspect of the game — how he wants his team to play in all three zones. He's up for the challenge."
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